Smoking and drinking


You are twice as likely to have a stroke if you smoke.

Smoking causes your arteries to fur up and makes a blood clot more likely. So stopping smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.

Public Health England warns of the toxic cycle of smoking:

Every time you smoke, blood that is thick and dirty with toxins, circulates through your body in seconds, which increases your chances of a stroke. If you could see the damage you would stop.

Drinking too much alcohol can also increase your blood pressure.

Binge drinking (more than six units of alcohol within six hours) in particular can cause your blood pressure to increase rapidly which greatly increases the risk of a stroke.

  • Don’t drink every day or exceed the recommended limits.
  • Women should not drink more than two to three units of alcohol a day (if you are pregnant, you should not drink at all).
  • Men should have no more than three to four units a day.

A unit of alcohol is a small glass of wine, a single measure of spirits or half a pint of weak beer or lager.

There is a lot of help and support available. Read our factsheets on smoking and alcohol for more information, tips to help you and other organisations that offer more specific support.


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