Smoking clouds the brain after stroke

October 2, 2012, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

A study of stroke patients from Southern Ontario found those who smoke have more difficulty with problem-solving and decision-making than non-smokers.

The study, presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress, tested of 76 patients, including 12 smokers, with an average age of 67.5 years, using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) tool. The MoCA exam tests patients with memory and problem solving questions and gives them a score out of 30.

Smokers had a median MoCA score two points lower than non-smokers—22 out of 30 compared to 24 out of 30. Patients who had previously quit smoking achieved the same scores as lifetime non-smokers, says Gail MacKenzie, a clinical nurse specialist at Hamilton General Hospital.

"This research emphasizes the importance of for people with stroke or TIA," says MacKenzie. TIA, or , is a and often serves as a warning sign that a bigger stroke is imminent. "Smoking is a risk factor for for people who continue to smoke and this ability to problem-solve and make decisions has implications for patients' health and self-management of care."

Low MoCA scores can reflect problems in memory, language, attention, visual-spatial or problem-solving skills.

The 10-minute MoCA test was administered to patients attending clinics in Barrie, Oshawa and Hamilton.

Almost 37,000 Canadians will die prematurely each year due to , and almost one-third of these deaths will be from cardiovascular disease. Smoking contributes to the build up of plaque in the arteries, increases the risk of blood clots, reduces the oxygen in the blood, increases blood pressure and makes the heart work harder. Smoking also nearly doubles the risk of . If a person stops smoking, their risk for stroke or heart disease decreases. Within 18 months to two years of quitting, the risks of stroke are about the same as for non-smokers.

"All Canadians should be smoke-free," says Ian Joiner, director of stroke for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Not only does it improve the length and quality of your life - but also the lives of those around you."

Joiner says this study reinforces the importance of tobacco-control legislation, prevention programs and education.

"There needs to be more effort to help people stop smoking to protect their brain both from stroke and from mental decline after stroke," says Dr. Mark Bayley, Congress Co-Chair.

The Canadian Stroke Congress is a joint initiative of the Canadian Stroke Network, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Stroke Consortium.

It gathers more than 1,000 stroke professionals to discuss the latest breakthroughs in stroke research and care.

Explore further: Smoking causes stroke to occur

Related Stories

Smoking causes stroke to occur

October 3, 2011
Not only are smokers twice as likely to have strokes, they are almost a decade younger than non-smokers when they have them, according to a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

Provincial effort to improve stroke care in Alberta is 'paying off'

October 2, 2012
Stroke care has improved considerably in Alberta following the implementation of the Alberta Provincial Stroke Strategy (APSS), leading to more targeted patient care and fewer health complications, according to a study presented ...

Exercise improves memory, thinking after stroke, study finds

October 1, 2012
Just six months of exercise can improve memory, language, thinking and judgment problems by almost 50 per cent, says a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

Many emergency programs get failing grade when it comes to stroke training

October 1, 2012
Medical residents training to work in the emergency department need more formal stroke training, says a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress, noting that, as the first point of contact in stroke care, they ...

Smoking after stroke increases death risk by three-fold

August 28, 2012
Patients who resume smoking after a stroke increase their risk of death by three-fold, according to research presented at ESC Congress 2012 by Professor Furio Colivicchi from San Filippo Neri Hospital. The researchers also ...

Recommended for you

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improve heart attack recovery

January 10, 2018
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.