Most patients in the study suffered the most common type of stroke, one in which a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain -- called an ischemic stroke.
Thrift noted that there weren't enough people in the study who suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, one caused by bleeding in the brain, to draw any conclusion about smoking and those outcomes.
Commenting on the report, an expert who was not involved with the study, Dr. Rafael Ortiz, described the physical connection between smoking and cardiovascular disease.
"Smoking predisposes people to hardening of the arteries and stroke," said Ortiz, director of the Center for Stroke and Neuro-Endovascular Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
This is the result of nicotine and carbon monoxide's effect on the blood vessels, he added.
"Never start smoking," Ortiz advised. "If you're a current smoker, stop, because it predisposes you to having a stroke and if you have a stroke it will have a worse outcome and it predisposes you to have a stroke at an earlier age."
Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., echoed Thrift's and Ortiz's advice.
"Quit smoking," Folan said.
Smokers have a great deal of disability after a stroke and a decreased quality of life, she said. People may not die after a stroke, but they may not be able to move or communicate and "their quality of life will be poor," she said.
"If we can convince people that smoking is going to have a big impact not only in their life span, but also in their quality of life in terms of not having a stroke or heart attack, that's the most important message," Folan said.
All rights reserved