A new systematic review of data, published in the journal Stroke has put into question evidence which suggests that cigarette smoking confers a greater risk of stroke to women compared with men.

The findings do suggest, however, that women smokers may be at greater risk for the less common haemorrhagic stroke, which is associated with higher mortality.

The meta-analysis of data from more than 80 international studies, including nearly 4 million individuals and over 42,000 strokes, found that smoking is linked to more than a 50% greater risk of ischaemic stroke, similar in both men and women.

However, for haemorrhagic stroke, smoking resulted in a 17% greater risk in women than in men. Researchers suggest that the greater risk for this type of stroke among women might be hormonally driven. Cholesterol and triglycerides appear to increase to a greater extent in women who smoke compared with men who smoke, increasing their overall risk for coronary heart disease to a greater extent than in male smokers.

REFERENCE

Peters S, et al. Published online before print August 22, 2013,doi: 10.1161/ StrokeAHA.113.002342

Meanwhile, data from a Norwegian health study suggest that middle-aged men with raised cholesterol are at significantly greater risk of a first myocardial infarction compared with women in the same age group with a matched lipid profile.

The findings, based on data from over 44,000 men and women up to 60 years of age with raised cholesterol, found that there were 157 new cases of heart attacks in women and 553 in men after 12 years."This difference was not replicated in the over-60s. Lead author Dr Erik Madssen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, suggested that men should be treated more aggressively than is the case today so that more infarctions can beprevented.