Link between smoking, strokes

Special to the Times-Record

May is Stroke Awareness Month, and City- County Health District and the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy (the Center) are using the opportunity to underscore how the connection between cigarette smoke and stroke reinforces the need for comprehensive smoke-free policies.

Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and people who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to have a stroke.

In addition to smokers being at risk, those breathing secondhand smoke also suffer at least a 30 percent increased stroke risk, as reported in a recent issue of “Preventing Chronic Disease,” published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to CDC, both smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke thicken the blood, thus making it more likely to clot.

This can lead to increased plaque buildup in arteries and damage blood vessels leading to the brain, which can cause or worsen a stroke.

“The increased risk of stroke caused by secondhand smoke is very alarming,” said Vicki Voldal Rosenau with the CCHD in Valley City.
“Smokers aren’t the only ones harmed by smoking, which is why we work to implement comprehensive smoke-free ordinances.”

The Center, North Dakota’s comprehensive tobacco prevention program, works with public health units across the state to promote science-based tobacco prevention and comprehensive tobacco-free policies.

Currently, 37 percent of North Dakotans are protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws.

“We’re all working to save lives in our local communities,” Voldal-Rosenau added.

Last year, tobacco use killed 800 North Dakotans prematurely and cost the state over $247 million in healthcare. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the state, which is the main reason the Center uses only proven CDC Best Practices to promote tobacco prevention statewide.

“Everyone knows the deadly connection between smoking and cancer and heart disease, but the increase in strokes is less familiar,” said Voldal-Rosenau.

To learn more about the link between stroke and tobacco smoke, and preventing tobacco use, contact City-County Health District at 701-845-8518, or go to