By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

smoker

Women who smoke are significantly more likely to bleed in the inner lining of the brain than men who light up and those who don’t, according to a Finnish study.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage, which accounts for 3 percent of all strokes in the United States, results from bleeding into the lining between the brain’s surface and underlying brain tissue.

“Our results suggest that age, sex and lifestyle risk factors play a critical role in predicting which patients are at risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage and emphasize the importance of effective smoking cessation strategies,” said Joni Valdemar Lindbohm, M.D., a physician in neurosurgery and public health at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Researchers, who said reasons for the difference in men and women aren’t clear, found:

  • Among light smokers (one-10 cigarettes per day), women were 2.95 and men 1.93 times more likely to have subarachnoid hemorrhage compared to non-smokers.
  • Women who smoked 11-20 cigarettes per day were 3.89 times more likely to have subarachnoid hemorrhage compared to non-smokers and men who smoked comparable amounts were 2.13 times more likely.
  • Women who smoked 21-30 cigarettes per day were more than 8.35 times likely to have subarachnoid hemorrhage compared to non-smokers and men who smoked comparable amounts were 2.76 times more likely.

But there was good news: Women and men that quit smoking more than six months earlier had comparable risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage to non-smokers.

There is no safe level of smoking,” Lindbohm said. “Naturally, the best option is never to start. Quitting smoking, however, can reduce the risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage in both sexes.”

The study is published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.