Cigarette smoking as a cause of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage and risk for vasospasm: a report of the Cooperative Aneurysm Study

J Neurosurg. 1998 Sep;89(3):405-11. doi: 10.3171/jns.1998.89.3.0405.


Object: Cigarette smoking is associated with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and subsequent vasospasm. The purpose of this study was to quantify this association.

Methods: Nearly 3500 patients with SAH from North America and Europe have been enrolled in five different multicenter, controlled studies coordinated at the Neuroclinical Trials Center of the Virginia Neurological Institute at the University of Virginia. Among the prospective data gathered were whether the patient smoked at the time of their most recent SAH and the evolution of angiographic vasospasm. The rate of smoking in the patients enrolled in the studies was compared with the expected rate by using a chi-square statistic adjusted for age and gender, in the general population in the United States (U.S.) and Europe. In virtually all age and gender subgroups, and for the combined populations in the five clinical trials, patients with SAH reported current smoking rates 2.5 times higher than expected based on U.S. and European national surveys (p < 0.0001). Cigarette smoking was also associated with younger age at onset of SAH (5-10 years, p < 0.0001) and increased incidence of clinically confirmed vasospasm (p < 0.005).

Conclusions: The findings of a significantly increased representation of current cigarette smokers in the study populations and significant association with younger age at the time of SAH and increased incidence of vasospasm concur with recent reports of smoking as a significant risk factor for ruptured aneurysms and subsequent vasospasm.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aneurysm, Ruptured / etiology
  • Canada
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / complications*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / diagnostic imaging
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • United States