From: Reuters
Published March 7, 2008 02:11 AM

Strong link between smoking and stroke in Chinese men

HONG KONG (Reuters) - One in seven strokes among Chinese men is due to cigarette smoking, researchers in China and the United States said citing a large-scale study that identified the habit as a major risk factor.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death and the top cause of long-term disability worldwide. And in China, the world's leading producer and consumer of cigarettes, stroke is a major public health problem, they said.

In an article published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers said prevention and kicking the smoking habit could reduce stroke deaths by almost 5 percent in the country.

"Of the stroke risk factors that can be modified, cigarette smoking is probably second only to hypertension," said Jiang He at the U.S.-based Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, which led the study.

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The study involved 83,533 men and 86,336 women over the age of 40 from 17 provinces; nearly 60 percent of the men and 13 percent of the women were smokers at the start of the study in 1991.

The researchers tracked them over an average of 8.3 years, during which there were 6,780 strokes, 3,979 of them fatal.

After adjusting for factors such as age and blood pressure, smoking accounted for 14.2 percent of strokes and 7.1 percent of stroke fatalities in men, and 3.1 percent of strokes and 2.4 percent of stroke deaths in women.

And the longer and heavier the smoking habit, the higher the risk of stroke, the researchers found.

The link between smoking and stroke was strongest for ischemic stroke, which is caused when a blood clot blocks the circulation of blood to the brain.

Participants who smoked a packet or more per day were 51 percent more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke.

Researchers found a less significant association between smoking and hemorrhagic stroke, caused by rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. Smoking a pack or more per day raised the risk of hemorrhagic stroke by 20 percent.

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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