African American Smokers at Greater Risk of Suffering Fatal Stroke

June 10, 2020 Updated: June 11, 2020

A National Institute of Health (NIH) study said African Americans who smoke are two-and-a-half times more likely to have a stroke than those who have never smoked, and stressed the need to quit smoking in the wake of the CCP virus pandemic.

“We know that quitting smoking is one way to lower the risk for stroke, which is particularly important for the most vulnerable populations during this pandemic,” said David Goff, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in a release on June 10.

The study also said African Americans who have been smoking for years are at twice the risk of white people of having a fatal stroke. However, the risk can be significantly lowered if they stop smoking.

There are many studies on the link between smoking and the higher risk of strokes but this study, the largest of its kind, analyzes the situation in the African American context.

“It’s important to communicate this risk to vulnerable populations, especially with the growing popularity of new tobacco products,” said Adebamike A. Oshunbade, the lead study author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The study divided smokers into two categories based on the intensity with which they smoke: one group of participants smoked about 19 cigarettes per day, and another group smoked 20 or more.

Researchers evaluated people from 2000 to 2015—781 past smokers, 546 current smokers, and 3,083 who never smoked. The risk tripled for those smoking 20 cigarettes every day.

By 2015, 6.6 percent of the first category of those that smoked about 19 cigarettes every day and 7.2 percent of those who had smoked 20 or more cigarettes every day had experienced a stroke.

“The bottom line is the more a person smokes, the greater their chance is of having a stroke,” said Oshunbade.

The study explained that those African Americans who smoked 20 or more cigarettes every day have a higher buildup of fatty plaques in the carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain. The researchers said this could play a role in creating a higher risk in African American smokers.

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