Effect of smoking on cerebrovascular reactivity

Mauro Silvestrini, Elio Troisi, Maria Matteis, Letizia Maria Cupini, Giorgio Bernardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current smoking is a risk factor for stroke. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of smoking one cigarette on cerebral hemodynamics. Using transcranial Doppler ultrasound, we studied the changes of flow velocity after hypercapnia in the middle cerebral arteries (IMCAs) of 24 healthy young smokers and 24 healthy controls matched for age and sex. We obtained hypercapnia with breath-holding and evaluated cerebrovascular reactivity with the breath-holding index. In smokers, the evaluation was performed during basal condition, immediately after smoking one cigarette, and at 10-, 20-, and 30-min intervals thereafter. In controls, the evaluation was performed at corresponding time intervals. Breath-holding index (BHI) values at rest were similar for both controls and smokers. In the former, breathholding index values remained constant for each of the different evaluations. On the contrary, in smokers, breath-holding index values were significantly lower immediately (p <0.0001), at 10 min (p <0.001), and at 20 min (p <0.0001) after smoking with respect to baseline values. Smoking also caused more short-lasting changes, in this case increases in mean flow velocity (MFV), heart rate (HR), and mean blood pressure (MBP). These results suggest that a failure of cerebrovascular regulation occurs after smoking. This phenomenon might contribute to the increased risk of cerebrovascular disease in current smokers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-749
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Hemodynamics
  • Smoking
  • Transcranial Doppler

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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