Smokers warned of very high stroke risk

Sarah Wiedersehn

Smoking not only causes lung cancer but can kill and change lives in an instant by causing a devastating stroke, health authorities warn.

Australia's 2.6 million smokers have been implored to quit as part of a new awareness campaign amid research that shows tobacco smoking doubles the risk of the devastating disease.

The toxic chemicals inhaled through tobacco smoke damage blood vessel walls, causing arteries to narrow and harden.

This increases the chance of blood clots forming and causing a stroke.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan says smokers need to take heed of the warning and say goodbye to cigarettes to reduce their stroke risk.

"If not only for themselves, but for the people they love, " said Ms McGowan.

While more Australians are surviving stroke, for survivors and their families its impact is far-reaching.

Former smoker Jayson Killick had to learn how to walk and talk again after he suffered a stroke in 2010 at the age of 35 while driving a taxi.

"Stroke had a massive impact on my life," Mr Killick said.

Extreme fatigue, problems with balance and bouts of depression were common.

"If you think giving up smoking is hard, living with stroke is even harder," he said

Smokers wanting to quit are urged to talk to their GP or call the National Quitline on 13 78 48 (13 QUIT).