Smoking and Stroke Risk

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Topic Overview

Smoking injures blood vessel walls and speeds up hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). As a result, the heart works harder, and blood pressure may increase. Cigarette smoking increases your risk for transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke.

Heavy smokers are at greater risk for TIA and stroke. Daily cigarette smoking can increase the risk of stroke by 2½ times.footnote 1

The risk of stroke and TIA decreases for those who quit smoking. If you smoked less than one pack a day and you quit, within 5 years your risk will be the same as though you had never smoked.footnote 1



  1. Kasner SE, Moss HE (2010). Cerebrovascular disorders. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 11, chap. 4. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

Other Works Consulted

  • Meschia JF, et al. (2014). Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: A statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke, published online October 28, 2014. DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000046. Accessed October 29, 2014.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRichard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Current as ofFebruary 12, 2015