Washington, Mar 7 : A new report has revealed that smoking is a major risk factor for stroke in China, accounting for about one in seven strokes in men.
Previous studies in western populations have shown that smoking is a major and independent risk factor for stroke.
However, the link between smoking and stroke hasn't been well studied in Asian populations.
"The study findings were consistent with reports from other populations, but in China this risk creates a huge public health problem," said Jiang He, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study, the Joseph S. Copes Chair and professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, La.
"In addition to being the world's most populous nation, China is the world's leading producer and consumer of cigarettes," He added.
As part of the study, researchers from Tulane and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing looked at a representative sample of 83,533 men and 86,336 women, 40 years and older, from 17 provinces in mainland China.
They gathered information on smoking and other health data when the study began in 1991. At that time, 59.1 percent of men and 13 percent of women reported being current smokers.
The participants were followed for an average 8.3 years, during which time 6,780 strokes occurred, 3,979 of them fatal.
After taking into account other stroke-related factors, such as age and blood pressure, researchers found that cigarette smoking was a significant predictor of stroke.
The researchers found that cigarette smoking accounted for 14.2 percent of strokes and 7.1 percent of stroke fatalities in men, and 3.1 percent of strokes and 2.4 percent of stroke deaths in women.
They also found that the longer and heavier a person's smoking habit, the higher the risk of stroke.
"Of the stroke risk factors that can be modified, cigarette smoking is probably second only to hypertension," He said. The study is published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.