When blood flow to areas in the brain are restricted, the result can often be an ischemic stroke. There are several causes of this affliction as well as warning signs. We covered them in the page about symptoms of stroke.
What you may not know is that while arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are in that group of causes of stroke, there is another player in the mix. This villain helps to increase the odds of developing the three big conditions just listed.
The grim reaper would of course be tobacco. It has wreaked havoc on American citizens for decades. It is continuing that assault on other parts of the world as well.
Recent reports have verified that ischemic stroke brought on by tobacco use has gotten so bad that China, Russia and India now have more deaths from this type of stroke than all the rest of the countries within this study combined! Since the last study reports from 1990, the United States and Japan had made some progress. The US was sixth overall and Japan was fifth. "Some progress" is a relative term of course.
(Editor's note: Here is a link to a page at books-empower.com with more detail about different types of ischemia.
* China ranks at the top of this list with 29% of the deaths from ischemic stroke directly linked to smoking.
* Russia is second on this list with 12%
* India is third at 11%
* Japan comes in at 3.4%
* America is listed at 2.6%
* Nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to become thicker and less flexible
* Smoking reduces the level of oxygen in blood flowing to the brain
* Smoking increases the buildup of cholesterol and plaque in the arteries. (Check out the page about the link between arteriosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease.)
* Smoking can increase the risk of blood clots. These can flow into the brain and lodge, causing that ischemic stroke.
According to Dr. Derrick Bennett of Oxford University, "Tobacco control policies that target both smoking initiation and smoking cessation can play an important role in the prevention of IS. In China, Russia, and India, even modest reductions in the number of current smokers could see millions of lives saved due to prevention of IS alone," ( Editor's note: The initials "IS" stand for ischemic stroke)
We've already been down this road in the United States. The relative term of "some progress" in this country must be taken with a grain of salt. We have the advantage of seeing first hand, the devastation from tobacco usage. So using that viewpoint, we should be doing much better.
A long overdue grass roots effort finally came about to create momentum that led to better education and more emphasis on preventing smoking. In particular in that most vulnerable group of teenagers.
The same effort will be needed in China as well. This killer is only one of the final outcomes of arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Tobacco usage only adds fuel to this fire.
Here is a source of some more information about reducing risks. In the middle of this linked page you'll find a spot to access a no cost "Freedom From Smoking" plan sponsored by the American Lung Association.
Be sure to check out the page about lessons learned from denial. This is a first person accounting from a man who survived a major health challenge. If you combine that with an awareness of those early warnings and stamp out cigarettes forever, you won't be included in the next numbers of deaths linked to smoking.
A good list to miss.