A new research has found that female smokers are at a higher risk for brain bleeds – strokes that are characterized by bleeding inside the brain’s lining, HealthDay News reports.
These deadly strokes, called subarachnoid hemorrhages, are eight times more likely to occur in women who smoke over a pack a day compared to non-smokers. The hemorrhages are also three times more common among men who smoke the same amount of cigarettes, Finnish researchers found.
Even light smoking increases a woman’s chances of getting this stroke three times over.
Dr. Joni Lindbohm of the University of Helsinki, lead researcher on the study, said that in short,
There is no safe level of smoking, and naturally, the best option is never to start.
Linbohm, who specializes in public health and neurosurgery, said their results show that policymakers should implement better strategies to combat smoking, which in turn would reduce the incidences of subarachnoid hemorrhages.
Subarachnoid hemorrhages make up 3% of all strokes, according to Dr. Ralph Sacco, head of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. This kind of stroke often happens in younger people and clock in a mortality rate of around one in five, not to mention devastating disabilities, Saccos explained. He was not involved in the study.
These strokes are caused by a bleeding brain aneurysm. Aneurysms are small, weak spots in blood vessels that can burst at any time.
Lindbohm and his team collected data on close to 66,000 adults listed in Finnish national surveys since 1972 for the study. Participants were monitored for an average of 21 years, until they had their first stroke, died, or up to the end of 2011.
The researchers found that among light smokers – those who consumed one to 10 cigarettes a day – women were three times more susceptible to subarachnoid hemorrhages, and men twice as likely compared to non-smokers.
Among those who smoked from 11 to 20 cigarettes a day, women were four times more likely and men twice as vulnerable to suffer from the same kind of stroke.
Although they found that subarachnoid hemorrhages were more common among women than men, the researchers are unclear on why. Lindbohm thinks that the heightened risk in women is largely due to the general harms of smoking.
The association between cigarettes and subarachnoid hemorrhages has been known for years, and this study adds more evidence to the recommendation not to smoke, Sacco said. Aside from smoking, igh blood pressure is also a main factor in subarachnoid hemorrhages, Sacco added.
Lindbohm said that females who smoke heavily and have unruptured aneurysms are a high-rsik population, akin to a ticking time bomb, and should seek medical attention immediately.
The study was published in the journal Stroke.