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Smoking Clouds the Brain After Stroke

A study of stroke patients has found that those who smoke have problems with memory, thinking and decision-making.

The study, presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress, tested the mental abilities of 76 patients, including 12 smokers, with an average age of 67.5 years, using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) exam.

The 10-minute exam, which tests patients with memory and problem solving questions, has a high score of 30.

The researchers found that smokers had a median MoCA score two points lower than non-smokers — 22 out of 30 compared to 24 out of 30.

Low MoCA scores can reflect problems in memory, language, attention, visual-spatial or problem-solving skills, according to the researchers.

Patients who quit smoking achieved the same scores as lifetime non-smokers, noted Gail MacKenzie, a clinical nurse specialist at Hamilton General Hospital.

The research emphasizes how important it is for people with stroke or transient ischemic attack (ITA) — a “mini-stroke” that often serves as a warning sign that a bigger stroke is imminent — to stop smoking, she added.

“Smoking is a risk factor for cognitive impairment for people who continue to smoke and this ability to problem solve and make decisions has implications for patients’ health and self-management of care,” she said.

Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 

Smoking Clouds the Brain After Stroke

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Smoking Clouds the Brain After Stroke. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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