We’ve all heard that smoking is bad for your lungs, but did you know it can also boost your risk of heart disease and stroke? In fact, a new study found that the more cigarettes young men smoked, the higher their risk of having a stroke.

Men who smoked were 88 percent more likely to have a stroke than men who never smoked, according to a study published in April by University of Maryland researchers. And, they found that men who smoked heavily, two packs a day or higher, were nearly five times more likely to have a stroke than those who had never smoked.

The takeaway message? If you smoke, quit. If you can’t quit cold-turkey, cutting back with the goal of quitting completely may cut your risk.

“We have known for some time that smoking is detrimental to your heart and overall health for a number of reasons, but this study is important because we are seeing strokes in more young adults,” said Daisy Lazarous, MD, a cardiologist for Adventist Medical Group. “Further, smoking is actually becoming more common among young adults.

Live Heart Healthy, Cut Stroke Risk

Heart disease and stroke are closely linked since they share many of the same risk factors, explained Dr. Lazarous. Following these heart healthy lifestyle tips can also help you reduce your risk for stroke.

  • Get an annual physical
  • Prevent or control high blood pressure
  • Eat a healthy diet consisting of mostly fruit and vegetables with some lean protein and whole grains
  • Avoid pre-packaged food with lots of salt or sodium
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
  • Get physically active daily
  • Keep a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI)
  • Do not smoke
  • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
  • Manage your cholesterol

Unfortunately, you cannot prevent every stroke and some happen in seemingly healthy people. If you notice these signs of a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

F — Face drooping

A — Arm weakness

S — Speech difficult

T — Time to call 9-1-1

Getting timely, effective care is important when having a stroke because even minutes can help to save a life or prevent serious brain damage. Patients served by Adventist HealthCare hospitals, Shady Grove Medical Center and Washington Adventist Hospital, can take comfort knowing that these hospitals again received two quality awards from the American Stroke Association for providing rapid, life-saving stroke care.

 

Daisy Lazarous, MD

Daisy Lazarous, MD

Daisy Lazarous, MD, is a cardiologist with Adventist Medical Group.

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