Low education, smoking, high blood pressure may lead to increased stroke risk
Adults smokers with limited education face a greater risk of stroke than those with a higher education, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.
The combination of smoking and high blood pressure increased stroke risk the most, confirming earlier findings in numerous studies.
In a multicenter Danish study, researchers defined lower education as grade school or lower secondary school (maximum of 10 years) education.
“We found it is worse being a current smoker with lower education than a current smoker with a higher education,” said Helene Nordahl, Ph.D., M.S.C., study lead author and researcher at the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. “Targeted interventions aimed at reducing smoking and high blood pressure in lower socioeconomic groups would yield a greater reduction in stroke than targeting the same behaviors in higher socioeconomic groups.”
Researchers divided 68,643 adults (30-70 years old) into low, medium and high education levels and assessed smoking and high blood pressure levels. They found:
- Sixteen percent of men and 11 percent of women were at high-risk of stroke due to low education level, smoking and high blood pressure.
- Men were more at risk of stroke than women, and the risk of stroke increased with age.
- Ten percent of the high-risk men and 9 percent of the high-risk women had an ischemic stroke during the study’s 14-year follow-up.
- Smokers with low education had a greater risk of stroke than smokers with high education regardless of their blood pressure.
“Universal interventions such as legislation or taxation could also have a strong effect on stroke in the most disadvantaged,” Nordahl said. “We need to challenge disparities in unhealthy behaviors, particularly smoking.”
Researchers weren’t able to consider differences associated with ethnicity because 98 percent of the participants were Danes.
“The distribution of stroke risk factors may vary across various contexts and study populations,” Nordahl said. “However, since the most disadvantaged groups are often exposed to a wide number of stroke risk factors, it seems plausible that these people are at higher risk of stroke not only in Denmark, but also in other industrialized countries.”
CVS, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain, said Wednesday it would stop selling all cigarettes and tobacco products nationwide by October, saying they have no place in a drugstore company that is trying to become more of a health-care provider.
What’s going on here? General Mills comes out with a ‘green washing’ piece on making Cherrios GMO free only to be trumped by Post’s declaration that not only will Grape Nuts be GMO Free, they will be listed on the Verified Non GMO list.
“Cigarettes have no place in an environment where health care is being delivered,” said Mr. Merlo, a 58-year-old former pharmacist who became CEO of CVS Caremark in 2011. “This is the right decision at the right time as we evolve from a drugstore into a health-care company.”
Who’s gonna be next in the race to wellness and customer loyalty? Watch and see as the markets begin to come into alignment with health and the well being of their customers.
After CVS announced this week that it will stop selling tobacco products on October 1, we’re starting to see petitions pop up on Change.org urging Walgreens and its Duane Reade pharmacies to also phase out tobacco sales.
The most popular Change.org petition, collecting more than 500 signatures since it was launched on Wednesday, was started by NYC resident Michael Brochstein, and calls into question Walgreens’ use of the slogan “at the corner of happy & healthy,” while selling products that cause cancer.
Says Michael Brochstein:
“I’ve signed a couple of petitions on Change.org before so when I read the story about CVS, I thought that a petition would be a great way to show Duane Reade and Walgreens, pharmacies which claim to do things to make us healthier, that their customers don’t think it is appropriate or consistent with their claims for them to be selling products that cause cancer.”
Customers and former employees are also leaving comments of support on Michael’s petition:
From Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Smoking is a highly addictive habit that has devastating consequences. Not only does it precipitate lung and pancreatic cancer, heart disease and a three-fold increase in age-related macular degeneration (AMD, the leading cause of blindness), it all too often results in sudden death.
After more than 30 years as a clinical cardiologist, I’ve learned firsthand of the cardinal relationship between smoking and disease.
Smoking and the Heart
Researchers have identified approximately 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke that can cause free radical damage to the blood vessels. These chemicals also increase the stickiness of blood, upping a person’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
We’ve also learned that nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke provoked high blood pressure (nicotine is a potent vasoconstrictor) and damaged the linings of blood vessel walls. But the alarming number of compounds in cigarettes and cigarette smoke has made it a virtual research nightmare to isolate the cause of smoking-related disease.
We do know, however, that excessive buildup of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which occurs in smokers, not only damages small blood vessels of the eye and heart, it robs the body of oxygen. A smoker might just as well hook himself up to the tailpipe of his car!
Finally, smoking also intensifies the oxidation of LDL and, remember, this sets the works in motion for clogged arteries. Further, research has proven that smoking severely depletes essential nutrients like vitamins C and E, both of which are needed to prevent free radical stress in blood vessels.
Smoking shortens lifespan according to new studies plus new curbs on smoking are being implemented by companies paying for health insurance. There’s never been a better time to kick the smoking habit for good.
Kicking the Smoking Habit
When it comes to smoking, I believe that biting the bullet and just saying “no” is the best way out. To get started, I suggest you prepare to quit one week ahead of time. Here are a few tips to help you lay the groundwork:
- Remove all smoking-related items from your house, car and office—ashtrays, lighters, packs of cigarettes and butts.
- Only smoke outside! This means all the time. No smoking in the car.
- Do not allow anyone to smoke in your house, car, or office.
- Start a daily exercise program—whether it’s walking, swimming, biking, or following along with an exercise video.
- Tell everyone you know you are quitting.
- Consider quitting during a break from your usual routine (vacation/over the weekend).
- Buy a low-tar nicotine cigarette like True or Advantage to help wean you off more addictive cigarettes.
- Talk to your doctor about low-nicotine patches. My patients have had success with patches. But please don’t smoke while using these patches.
- If you’re depressed, talk to your doctor about the prescription drug Wellbutrin (Zyban).
Tips to Stay on the Smoke-Free Track
Many people start and stop smoking several times over in a lifetime. I’ve found that if you can quit for three straight days, the cravings for a cigarette get easier, and your risk of heart disease is cut in half, too.
The following tips will help you get through those three days…and any other difficult days that may come along.
- At bedtime, take the money that you would have spent on cigarettes that day and toss it in a big glass jar. At the end of the first week, gather it up and spend it on yourself. See a movie or splurge on some small thing you’ve been wanting. Then save for longer time periods and make the rewards bigger!
- Take a few “timeouts” (5–10 minutes) to be still and focus on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling slowly and rhythmically like you did when you smoked.
- Avoid the locations of your smoking breaks, or favorite entertainment spots.
- Eat celery or carrot sticks, or chew sugarless gum in the evening, or after a meal.
- Drink 10 glasses of water daily. Add a slice of lemon or lime to enhance the flavor. Citrus may eliminate the urge to pick up a cigarette.
- Commit to yourself and to a loved one to stop smoking. Ask for help if you need it, and don’t start smoking again!
Smoking addiction didn’t happen with your first smoke, so don’t expect your cravings to disappear overnight. Playing the “Is It Healthy?” Game is about bringing your attention to the moment and choosing the healthy behavior in that moment. The tips provided by Dr. Sinatra will go a long way to setting the stage for you to choose healthy when the nicotine craving begins to ravage your will.
If your oral fixation must be served, you might as well eat some of these detox foods. Here’s a detox diet for smokers to help your liver clean out toxins from smoking. Good luck and happy breathing.
Chicago (September 16, 2008)
A five-star restaurant might be out of the question, but a nice bottle of wine at home? Definitely. In spite of or maybe because of tough economic times, many Americans are clinging to their smallest, most indulgent pleasures.
“Chocolate, cigarettes and alcohol again seem relatively recession-proof,” comments Marcia Mogelonsky, senior analyst at Mintel. “People might be cutting back or switching to store-brands, but they definitely aren’t giving up their small daily indulgences.”
Mogelonsky points out that most Americans can still afford chocolate, cigarettes and alcohol, no matter how much their finances have been cut. “Because people are being so cautious with their spending, they feel they are entitled to small rewards and they won’t give them up easily.”
The sweet tooth does not seem to be connected to the finance bone. Mintel shows the chocolate market growing quickly, with retail sales rising 22% from 2002 to 2007 (to $16.3 billion). Innovative, dark and premium chocolates are extremely popular, so Mintel expects Americans to continue indulging in this favorite treat. The market research firm predicts 4% annual sales increases each year for the next six years.
A common vice, many smokers aren’t kicking the habit, even as prices continue to rise and health warnings abound. Cigarette and tobacco product sales increased 44% from 2003 to 2007 (to $103 billion) according to Mintel. As price and tax increases continue to take hold, Mintel projects that the cigarette and tobacco market will grow 28% through 2011 (to $132 billion).
World's Most Expensive Cigarette
Motivated by high gas prices and expensive bar tabs, more Americans are opting to drink at home. But that doesn’t mean they’re drinking less. New research from Mintel reveals the market for at-home alcohol is expected to reach $77.8 billion in 2008, a 32% increase from 2003. Mintel expects both in-home and out-of-home alcohol sales to rise steadily in coming years.
History seems to be repeating itself, as the “sinful” chocolate, cigarette and alcohol markets remain steady and robust. Mintel notes a sharp contrast to other food, beverage and leisure categories, which struggle as gas prices rise and the economy stumbles.
How Much Is One Drink?
So, how much is “one” drink anyway?