SMOKING RAISES YOUR RISK OF STROKES BY 6 TIMES
When we think of the dangers of smoking, our mind normally goes to cancer. And of course this is a huge risk as well, but what many people forget is that every time you smoke, you raise the chance of all manner of illnesses.
One of the major ones is a stroke, we all know what a stroke is roughly, but as smokers many of us never connect the tobacco we smoke to the idea of permanently losing control of part of your body.
But by smoking a pack of 20 a day a smoker is 6 times more likely to have a stroke, and even worse you are 50% more likely to die from the stroke as well.
STROKES AND CIGARETTES
A stroke is the term for when your brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients for an extended period of time, and part of your brain is damaged or dies. It is estimated that for every minute a stroke goes untreated you lose 1.9 million nerve cells. Your brain has a lot of these, but that number quickly adds up.
This is normally caused by a blockage of the blood to the brain, essentially starving the brain of what it need to function. These kind of strokes are called ischaemic and are the most common, with 85% of strokes being classed as this. Strokes can also be caused by a burst blood vessel, though that is much less common.
Because of this damage or death to parts of the brain the symptoms of a stroke are stark, and the NHS created a mnemonic to identify them, warning that if you notice any of the signs to act FAST:
Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.
Time – it's time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
In both media and public knowledge a stroke is normally shown as non-fatal, and most of us think of them as potentially life changing but not something that will end our lives.
This is not true though, in fact 10% of patients sadly die from it. That is of course if you are not a smoker, if you do smoke then that number is more likely 20%.
But even if you do survive there is a 65% chance that you will be leaving the hospital with some sort of disability.
Smoking causes Strokes
Anything that causes the heart to work harder and stops the blood getting to your brain contributes to your chance to get a stroke. The biggest contributors to that are:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- blood clots
Each of these stop the blood from flowing properly, and potentially will stop the blood from getting to your brain entirely. And this is where smoking is so dangerous, as the toxins in cigarettes make every one of these more likely to happen.
With high blood pressure smoking doesn't affect it directly, but it makes it worse by narrowing the arteries in your body and making causing your blood pressure to rise even more.
Smoking does though cause bad cholesterol, and actually lowers good cholesterol at the same time. It does this with one of the 4000+ chemicals that are in cigarettes called acrolein. This chemical makes the body think that your good cholesterol is an invader, and so your immune system gets rid of it. Because there is now less of this good cholesterol the bad cholesterol is able to grow.
Bad Cholesterol then starts to build up in the heart, causing it to work harder and greatly increase the chance of blood clots, which is a major cause of strokes.
Speaking of blood clots though, smoking also causes these in another way as well, by damaging the actual arteries. Whenever you take a puff of a cigarette the toxins inside cause damage to your arteries, increasing the chance yet again of your body creating clots. A particularly bad chemical is arsenic, and is one of the key chemicals that damages your blood vessels. These blood clots can then block blood getting to your brain.
Lastly smoking is major contributor to diabetes, to be more specific type 2 diabetes. An average smoker is actually 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than a non-smoker.
This is relevant to the chance of suffering a stroke as diabetics have a much higher risk of strokes, due to the excess of sugar in the blood. This sugar builds up fat deposits in the arteries further narrowing them and causing tears.
Cigarettes then are almost a perfect storm when it comes to strokes, not only do they contribute directly by narrowing the arteries and raising your blood pressure, but they create other illnesses which also further the risk. It is no wonder then that smokers are 6 times more likely suffer from a stroke.
E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than cigarettes
The advice you will see online then is simple, stop smoking. But as non-smokers ourselves we know how difficult that can be. You may want to stop smoking, you might have even tried a few times, but you always come back to cigarettes.
That's where E-cigarettes come in. They can give you the nicotine your body craves along with the taste and the feel of a cigarette, but without the 4000+ chemicals found in cigarettes. Because E-cigarettes don't contain any of the these toxins the UK government declared e-cigs as at least "95% less harmful than cigarettes".
E-cigarettes can give a smoker everything they crave from cigarettes, but without many of the negatives, and at 80% less cost too.