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Smoking & Stroke

How common is smoking in women?

A smoker is anyone who has smoked 100 cigarettes in his or her lifetime and who still smokes one or more cigarettes a day. More than 20 million American women smoke. In the 1970s, smoking levels began to decline in US adults, but the decline among women slowed down in the 1990s. Nearly 80% of smokers begin before age 18. Currently, about 25% of girls in grades 9 to 12 smoke.

Levels of Smoking Among Women
Source: American Heart Association Heart Disease & Stroke Statistics
People in the US who smoke 44.3 million
Women in the US who smoke 20.2 million
Women Who Smoke By Race
White 20%
Black or African American 17%
Hispanic or Latina* 11%
Asian* 5%
American Indian/Alaska Native* 29%
Figures for adults 18 years and older, 2004; *1999-2001


Does smoking increase my stroke risk?

Yes—smoking doubles your overall stroke risk compared with nonsmokers,1 an increase in risk similar to that caused by the strongest stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol. In women younger than 65, smoking is estimated to be responsible for 55% of deaths due to stroke (51% in men).2 Overall, smoking contributes to 12% to 14% of all stroke deaths.3

Smoking has varying effects on your risk of suffering different kinds of stroke: it approximately doubles a woman’s risk of blocked-vessel (ischemic) stroke, the most common kind of stroke.4 Smoking has an even larger effect on the risk of bleeding (hemorrhagic) stroke, raising risk to 2 to 4 times that of nonsmokers. Among nearly 40,000 US women in the Women’s Health Study, those who smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day had a 4-fold increased risk of bleeding stroke caused by subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding into the space surrounding the brain, compared with never smokers.5

Next: More about smoking and stroke

Filed in Am I at Risk? > Featured


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