Smoking and the risk of transient ischemic attack and stroke

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 has been shown to increase your risk for transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke.1

Heavy smokers are at greater risk for TIA and stroke. Daily cigarette smoking can increase the risk of stroke by 2½ times.2

The risk of stroke and TIA decreases for those who quit smoking. If you smoke less than one pack per day when you quit, within 5 years your risk will be the same as though you had never smoked.2


  1. Mast H, et al. (1998). Cigarette smoking as a determinant of high-grade carotid artery stenosis in Hispanic, black, and white patients with stroke or transient ischemic attack. Stroke, 29(5): 908–912.
  2. Kasner SE, Morgenstern LB (2004). Cerebrovascular disorders. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 11, chap. 4. New York: WebMD.

Last Updated: November 11, 2009

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