Spouse smoking stroke risk ‘definitive’
HAVING a spouse who smokes significantly increases stroke risk, new research has found.
A US prospective study of 16,225 healthy men and women, aged 50 years or older, found that over nine years those who had never smoked had a 42% greater risk of stroke if their spouse currently smoked, compared to those with non-smoking spouses.
Former smokers married to current smokers had a 72% higher risk of stroke than those whose spouses had never smoked. The association remained after adjusting for age, education, wealth, obesity, alcohol use and diagnosed hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.
Professor Geoffrey Donnan, director of the National Stroke Research Institute, said the study was “definitive” in linking spousal smoking to increased risk of stroke.
He said evidence from two small Australian studies had previously shown a positive association, however a US survey found a husband’s smoking conferred excess stroke risk among female smokers, but not among non-smoking women.
As this cohort was younger on average, the disparity could be due to the risk increasing over time, the authors suggested.
“You’re at risk from a very young age if you are exposed to smoke and probably the risk just accumulates as the years go by,” Professor Donnan said.
Am J Prev Med (in press).