Smokers whose family members have had a type of bleeding stroke are six times more likely to suffer the same fate than people without these risk factors, according to a new study.
The stroke type known as an "aneurismal subarachnoid haemorrhage" - essentially a burst blood vessel in the brain - runs in families, note Dr Daniel Woo and others in the medical journal Neurology, and they wanted to see if smoking added to the hereditary risk.
Their study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, compared 339 patients with aneurismal subarachnoid haemorrhage with 1 016 "controls" without the condition, matched by age, race and gender.
what the study found
Compared with non-smokers, smokers had more than three times the risk of an aneurismal subarachnoid haemorrhage. The risk in smokers without a family history of this condition was increased by 2.5-fold, but the combination of a family history and smoking raised the risk more than a six-fold, Woo, at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, and his associates found.
They did not see the same kind of interaction between family history and former smoking, "which suggests that the risk conferred by an interaction may be lowered by quitting smoking."
They note that aneurismal subarachnoid haemorrhage is fatal in 35-40% of patients, and they hope the new information will encourage smokers to quit, especially if they have a familial risk. – (Reuters Health, January 2009)
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