According to Dr. Ahmad Al Mulla, Head of the Tobacco Control Center at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), smoking is a major cause of stroke.
According to Dr. Al Mulla, World Health Organization data shows that the risk of stroke is greater among smokers than those who never smoked. He said forty percent of all deaths resulting from stroke in people aged under 65 years are associated with smoking. Dr. Al Mulla noted that smoking is a major cause of stoke because cigarette smoke is made up of a complex mixture of thousands of chemicals and toxic substances, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia.
He said these chemicals are transferred from the lungs into the bloodstream, damaging blood vessels in the brain and affecting the body’s cholesterol levels. He said smoking can increase levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, increasing the risk of stroke. The chemicals in cigarette smoke also increase the risk of blood clots. If a clot occurs in an artery leading to the brain, it can cause a stroke. Known as an ischemic stroke, this type of stroke occurs when an artery in the brain becomes blocked. Smoking nearly doubles the risk of having an ischemic stroke.
Dr. Al Mulla added that smokers are also more likely to develop high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke. He says smoking is particularly dangerous for people who already have high blood pressure because high blood pressure contributes to damage to the arteries.
Dr. Jamal Abdullah, a Smoking Cessation Specialist at HMC, said World Stroke Day provides an important opportunity to highlight the health benefits of quitting smoking. He said it is never too late to quit smoking, noting that five years after you stop smoking, your risk of many of the adverse health effects of smoking, including stroke, significantly decrease. He said HMC’s Tobacco Control Center provides patients with one-on-one counseling and appropriate nicotine replacement or pharmaceutical support. He said clinical teams at the Tobacco Control Center talk to patients about available treatment options, which include the most modern and effective solutions to quit smoking.
World Stroke Day is observed on 29 October each year to underscore the serious nature and high rates of stroke and to raise awareness of the prevention and treatment options available. The day also honors people who have made scientific advances in treating stroke-related illnesses as well as stroke survivors, their families, and caregivers.