DALLAS, Aug. 5 -- In a study of women smokers, those whose spouses alsosmoked had a higher risk of stroke than those married to nonsmokers,according to a study in Stroke: Journal of the American HeartAssociation.
"There is evidence suggesting that your exposure to secondhand smokecan increase your chances of getting heart disease. We asked if thatwas also true for stroke," said the study's lead author Adnan I.Qureshi M.D., professor and director of the Cerebrovascular Program inthe Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center at the University of Medicineand Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.
Researchers analyzed data from 5,379 U.S. women who participated in theFirst National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey EpidemiologicFollow-Up Study. The researchers then recorded the women's smoking andmarital status and the incidence of total stroke and ischemic stroke (astroke caused by a blood clot blocking blood flow to the brain).Overall, 2,347 of the women were current or former smokers themselves.Of those women, 1,904 were married to smokers.
"We found that cigarette-smoking women with cigarette-smoking spouseshad almost a six times higher relative risk of total stroke thancigarette-smoking women with nonsmoking spouses," he said.
The relative risk of total stroke was 5.7 times higher incigarette-smoking women with cigarette-smoking spouses and 4.8 timeshigher for ischemic stroke.
Nonsmoking women married to smoking spouses did not have asignificantly higher incidence of stroke compared to nonsmoking womenwith nonsmoking spouses. However, Qureshi said smoking spouses ofnonsmoking women may avoid exposing their partners to smoke.
The findings emphasize that it is not just one's own smoking that contributes to stroke risk, but also spouses' smoking.
"If physicians are to make a real impact on reducing stroke risk amongtheir patients, they should not only address their patients' smokinghabits but also those of their spouses or partners," Qureshi said.
Co-authors are M. Fareed K. Suri, M.D.; Jawad F. Kirmani, M.D. and Afshin A. Divani, Ph.D.
Editor's note: For more information on stroke, visit the American Stroke Association Web site: strokeassociation.org.
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