Smoking Women Vulnerable to Brain Bleeding

Smoking Women Vulnerable to Brain BleedingSmoking Women Vulnerable to Brain Bleeding

Smokers - especially 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. Subarachnoid hemorrhage is a form of stroke characterized by bleeding in the subarachnoid region of the brain - the area between the brain and the tissues that cover it.

While subarachnoid hemorrhage is rare, accounting for around 3% of all strokes, it can have serious consequences, causing paralysis, coma, and death.

A sudden, severe headache is the primary symptom of subarachnoid hemorrhage, and this most commonly occurs at the back of the head. Other symptoms include reduced consciousness and alertness, changes in mood and personality, and eye discomfort in response to bright light, reported.

The condition is more common among women than men, though the reasons for this have been unclear.

Now, study leader Dr. Joni Valdemar Lindbohm, of the University of Helsinki in Finland, and colleagues say their findings indicate that smoking may increase women’s vulnerability to subarachnoid hemorrhage.

  Monitored for 21 Years

To reach their findings, the team analyzed the data of 65,521 adults of an average age of 45 who had taken part in Finnish national surveys, beginning in 1972. More than half of the participants were women.

As part of the surveys, Lindbohm and colleagues looked at subjects’ smoking status and the incidence of subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Participants were followed-up for an average of 21 years from study baseline. Follow-up continued until December 31, 2011, or until subjects had their first stroke or died. The more cigarettes subjects smoked daily, the higher their risk, and women fared worse than men.

Among those who smoked 11-20 cigarettes a day, men were 2.13 times more likely to have a subarachnoid hemorrhage than non-smokers, while the risk was 3.89 times greater for women. Women who smoked 21-30 cigarettes a day were 8.35 times more likely to experience a subarachnoid hemorrhage than non-smokers, while men who smoked 21-30 cigarettes daily were at 2.76 times greater risk.

These results, say the authors, may help explain why subarachnoid hemorrhage is more common among women than men.

“Female sex has been described as an independent risk factor for subarachnoid hemorrhage, but we found strong evidence that the elevated risk in women is explained by vulnerability to smoking.