Smoking and Mortality in Stroke Survivors: Can We Eliminate the Paradox?
BACKGROUND: Many studies have suggested that smoking does not increase mortality in stroke survivors. Index event bias, a sample selection bias, potentially explains this paradoxical finding. Therefore, we compared all-cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer mortality by cigarette smoking status among stroke survivors using methods to account for index event bias. METHODS: Among 5797 stroke survivors of 45 years or older who responded to the National Health Interview Survey years 1997-2004, an annual, population-based survey of community-dwelling US adults, linked to the National Death Index, we estimated all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality by smoking status using Cox proportional regression and propensity score analysis to account for demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical factors. Mean follow-up was 4.5 years. RESULTS: From 1997 to 2004, 18.7% of stroke survivors smoked. There were 1988 deaths in this stroke survivor cohort, with 50% of deaths because of CVD and 15% because of cancer. Current smokers had an increased risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 1.36; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14-1.63) and cancer mortality (HR, 3.83; 95% CI, 2.48-5.91) compared with never smokers, after controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical factors. Current smokers had an increased risk of CVD mortality controlling for age and sex (HR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.01-1.64), but this risk did not persist after controlling for socioeconomic and clinical factors (HR, 1.15; 95% CI, .88-1.50). CONCLUSIONS: Stroke survivors who smoke have an increased risk of all-cause mortality, which is largely because of cancer mortality. Socioeconomic and clinical factors explain stroke survivors' higher risk of CVD mortality associated with smoking