Smoking spouse raises wife's stroke risk
Women already at risk of a stroke because they smoke cigarettes increase their stroke risk threefold if they live with a spouse who also smokes, a University at Buffalo study shows.
The increase in risk among smoking women, but not among nonsmoking women, could be related to certain smoking habits, according to Dr. Adnan Qureshi, lead author on the study.
"Spouses are more likely to smoke in proximity (the same room) to wives who smoke than to wives who do not smoke," he said. "There also is an increased likelihood that when both spouses smoke, they are less likely to spend time in a smoke-free environment."
The study is one of two Qureshi presented at the recent 28th International Stroke Conference in Phoenix.
In the other study conducted at UB's Toshiba Stroke Research Center, he and his colleagues found that a 30 percent greater incidence of stroke-related deaths in African-Americans over whites is not accounted for by differences in conventional risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.
It's well-known that African-Americans suffer more stroke deaths than whites, but the reasons for this disparity remain a mystery. The UB study looked at whether differences in any of the major risk factors of stroke were to blame.
"There are additional unidentified factors that contribute to the higher stroke-related mortality among African-Americans," Qureshi said. "If these risk factors are not identified and eliminated, the ethnic disparities in stroke-related mortality would continue."
He said the findings suggest that control of hypertension and diabetes will help reduce the excess burden of stroke death in African-Americans, but these efforts will not be enough.
Qureshi was an associate professor of neurosurgery at UB at the time of the study. He now is director of the cerebrovascular program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
In the smoking study, he said the findings suggest that spousal smoking exerts a negative influence on the hearts of women who smoke, in addition to and independent of the classical cardiovascular risk factors.
Several studies have pointed to secondhand smoke from spouses as a source of tobacco exposure that can increase a woman's risk of cardiovascular diseases.