Secondhand smoke spikes the risk of stroke in non smokers: New study

If you’re a smoker then you should know how much is too much. A new study says that the non smokers around you can develop 30 percent increased risk of having stroke, owing to smoking.


Photo Credit: Paolo Neo

Angela M Malek from the Department of Public Health Sciences of Medical University of South Carolina along with her colleagues initiated a research with the goal to understand the connection between secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure and the risk of stroke and its sub forms – ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, in non smokers.

The researchers collected data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study that is a national, population-based, longitudinal study examining cardiovascular disease events and mortality endpoints in 45 percent African-Americans and 55 percent white Americans aged greater than or equal to 45 years.

The results showed that out of the 21, 743 participants, 23 percent reported secondhand smoke exposure. In fact, 428 stroke incidents were noticed from April 2003 to March 2012 due to secondhand smoke exposure.

“Our results suggest the possibility for adverse health outcomes such as stroke among nonsmokers and supports stricter smoking regulations,” Malek said.

An additional evaluation of the sub forms of stroke was conducted, which showed that most strokes were caused due to obstruction of blood flow to the brain (352 ischemic, 50 hemorrhagic, and 26 of unidentified stroke sub form).

The study throws light that exposure to secondhand smoke is concerning because heightened serum cotinine levels were noticed among 40 percent of non smokers who participated in the 1999 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Out of the 40 percent, apart from other sources – 14 percent suffered secondhand smoke exposure at work and 6 percent at home.

An earlier review showed that those who faced low environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure had a risk of death from coronary heart disease by 25 percent to 35 percent as compared to those without ETS exposure.

Malek however stressed that more research will be required to examine the part played by “cardiovascular disease risk factors in the association and explore potential exposure to additional environmental variables.”

The research has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) every year 17 million people die of cardiovascular diseases – chiefly heart attacks and strokes.

According to World Heart Federation, 15 million people suffer a stroke every year, globally while almost five million are left permanently disabled and six million unfortunately die.

Stroke can lead to the damage of sight and/or speech, confusion as well as paralysis. It is also considered to be the second leading cause of mortality above the age of 60 years, and fifth leading cause among the age of 15 to 59 years.

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