Smoking and Stroke Risk

Skip to the navigation

Topic Overview

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 increases your risk for transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke .

Heavy smokers are at greater risk for TIA and stroke. Daily cigarette smoking can increase the risk of stroke by 2½ times. footnote 1

The risk of stroke and TIA decreases for those who quit smoking. If you smoked less than one pack a day and you quit, within 5 years your risk will be the same as though you had never smoked. footnote 1



  1. Kasner SE, Moss HE (2010). Cerebrovascular disorders. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 11, chap. 4. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

Other Works Consulted

  • Meschia JF, et al. (2014). Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: A statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke, published online October 28, 2014. DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000046. Accessed October 29, 2014.


ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Current as ofAugust 21, 2015