Stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is either reduced or stopped, or if blood vessel supplying oxygen and glucose to the brain tissue ruptures resulting in brain tissue’s death. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability which can also be prevented with some changes in lifestyle and by taking proper precautions. Smoking is one of the major contributing factors that increases the risk of heart diseases and stroke significantly.
How Smoking Causes Stroke?
- During smoking, the tobacco smoke that we inhale contains thousands of harmful toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals potentially change and damage cell in the body. These toxins damage the artery making it more liable to rupture, increasing the risk of stroke.
- The toxins make blood stickier and increase clot-forming tendency of blood. This makes the arteries narrow reducing the blood supply to brain in-turn resulting in stroke.
- Smoking increases the level of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and reduces the level of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) which further worsens the condition and makes the person more susceptible for stroke.
- It is an established fact that there is a strong correlation between smoking and blood pressure. Smoking leads to increased blood pressure, which is one of the major reasons of stroke and accounts for about 50% of ischemic strokes. It is also established that smoking almost doubles the risk of ischemic stroke.
- Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in blood, which exerts increased workload on heart as compared to a non-smoker heart.
Altogether, the above stated factors lead to thickening and narrowing the blood vessels, which leads to altered blood supply to brain, causing stroke. Smoking combined with other stroke risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and total cholesterol count of body, sedentary lifestyle, and stress increase the risk of stroke many a times.
Susceptibility for stroke increases three folds for smokers. Frequency of smoking also increases the risk of having cardiovascular diseases (disease related to heart and blood vessels). Smoking up to 20 cigarettes per day increases the risk for stroke up to six times as compared to a non-smoker. Smokers who have had stroke must stop smoking as they are at greatest risk of having another stroke if they continue smoking.
Though smoking increases the risk of stroke markedly but not all smokers are at risk of having stroke as it largely depends on the severity and frequency of smoking. Sometimes other health and lifestyle related factors are responsible for causing stroke.
- The reduction in frequency of smoking and few changes in lifestyle can save the person from the debilitating effects of stroke. Person who has had stroke should stop smoking completely.
- Habit cannot change at once. Gradual reduction in frequency will help.
- Pregnant women and women’s on birth control pills should not smoke.
- Menthol cigarettes are supposed to have a higher stroke risk as compared to non-menthol cigarettes.
- Exercise can bring remarkable changes in body as it brings down the increased BP to normal, improves heart function, and reduces total cholesterol and helps in reducing anxiety and depression. Thus, exercise for stroke patients is very crucial.
- Healthy food habits, which comprise of no saturated and Trans-fat instead greater potions of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy products and lean meat, should be consumed. Alcohol consumption should be completely stopped.
- Stress management will help in keeping BP normal.
It has been observed that body starts repair and healing soon after quitting smoking. Thus the sooner smoking is stopped better would be the outcome!