Researchers suggest smoking may increase a women’s vulnerability to subarachnoid hemorrhage.  Female smokers are at much greater risk for bleeding in the lining of the brain, known as subarachnoid hemorrhage, than non-smokers. This is the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Stroke.

Young woman with broken cigarette. Stop smoking concept.Subarachnoid hemorrhage is a form of stroke characterized by bleeding in the subarachnoid region of the brain – the area between the brain the tissues that cover it.  While subarachnoid hemorrhage is rare, accounting for around 3 percent of all strokes, it can have serious consequences, causing paralysis, coma, and death.  The condition is more common among women than men, though the reasons for this have been unclear.

Female smokers have 8 times greater subarachnoid hemorrhage risk compared with non-smokers, the researchers found that smokers were more likely to experience a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The more cigarettes subjects smoked daily, the higher their risk, and women fared worse than men.

Among light smokers, defined as smoking 1-10 cigarettes daily, men were 2X more likely to have a subarachnoid hemorrhage than non-smokers, while women were at 3x greater risk.  Among those who smoked heavier, 11-20 cigarettes a day, men were 2X more likely to have a subarachnoid hemorrhage than non-smokers, while the risk was 4X greater for women.  Women who smoked 21-30 cigarettes a day were 8x more likely to experience a subarachnoid hemorrhage than non-smokers, while men who smoked 21-30 cigarettes daily were at 3x greater risk.

The researchers found that quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage.  Results of the analysis revealed that men and women who had not smoked for at least 6 months had a risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage that was comparable to non-smokers.  Of course, the best option is never to start. Quitting smoking, however, a smoker can reduce their risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage.


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