Stroke victims who smoke are likelier to die

SmokePatients who resume smoking after a stroke tend to face a three-fold increase in death-risk, says an Italian study. Researchers led by Furio Colivicchi, professor at the San Filippo Neri Hospital in Rome, also found that earlier the patients resumed smoking, the greater their risk of death with a year. "It is well-established that smoking increases the risk of having a stroke," said Colivicchi.

"Quitting smoking after an acute ischemic stroke (blockage of blood supply to a brain area) may be more effective than any medication in reducing the risk of further adverse events." "However, on the other hand, our study shows that stroke patients resuming active smoking after leaving the hospital can raise their risk of dying by as much as three-fold," he said.

The study gauged the effects of resuming smoking after a stroke and to see how many patients are likely to relapse, according to a Neri Hospital statement. Cardiologists from San Filippo Neri Hospital in Rome, with neurologists from the Santa Lucia Foundation of Rome, tracked 921 patients (584 men and 337 women aged between 67 and 16) who reported being regular smokers before they were hospitalised with acute ischemic stroke.

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All patients ceased smoking while in the hospital and declared themselves motivated to continue abstaining once they were discharged. They attended brief counselling sessions, but no nicotine replacement or other help was provided after they left the hospital. Patients were interviewed about their smoking status at one, six and 12 months after their release from the hospital and by the end of the first year 493 had resumed regular smoking. Older patients and women were more likely to relapse.

Within a year, 89 patients died. After adjusting for patient ages and other clinical variables such as stroke severity, presence of diabetes, hypertension or coronary artery disease, researchers found that resuming smoking raised a person's risk of death by about three-fold compared to patients who did not relapse.

These findings were presented at European Society of Cardiology Congress 2012 in Munich, Germany.

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