Smokers may have higher risk of brain aneurysm

Research we're watching

Published: November, 2020

Need another reason to quit smoking? A study published in the September 2020 issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that women ages 30 to 60 who smoked had four times the risk of having a brain aneurysm (a weakened artery in the brain that bulges and could burst) compared with nonsmokers.

Researchers looked at nearly 550 women who had a brain scan performed, most often because of persistent headaches. The scans showed that 113 of them had one or more brain aneurysms. These individuals were then matched with 113 people who did not have brain aneurysms. In comparing the two groups, the researchers found not only that smoking drove up the risk of finding a brain aneurysm, but also that women who both smoked and had high blood pressure had seven times the risk compared to nonsmokers with normal blood pressure. If future research shows that smokers also have a significantly higher risk of brain aneurysm rupture, women smokers ages 30 to 60 might be candidates for aneurysm screening.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »