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Global Rate of Stroke Cases, Deaths Still Too High

THURSDAY, Dec. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- While strokes and related deaths have declined in rich nations, they remain stubbornly high worldwide, a new study says.

Author Liyuan Han attributed the overall decreases to "better medical services in high-income countries, which may offer earlier detection of stroke risk factors and better control" of them.

“But even in these countries, the total number of people with strokes is increasing due to population growth and aging," added Han, a researcher at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Ningbo, China. "And worldwide stroke is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability for adults."

For the study, the researchers analyzed global data on ischemic strokes -- which are caused by blood clots and account for 85% of all strokes -- from 1990 to 2019.

During that time, the average age-adjusted rate of stroke fell by 0.43%, from 105 per 100,000 people to 95 strokes per 100,000.

By country, the highest rates were in the United Arab Emirates at 208 per 100,000; Macedonia at 187, and Jordan at 181. The lowest rates were in Ireland at 36; Nepal at 37, and Switzerland at 38 strokes for every 100,000 people.

Regionally, the highest rates were in East Asia (144 per 100,000) and North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe (135 per 100,000).

Australasia (the Australia/New Zealand area) had the lowest regional rate at 44 strokes per 100,000.

Egypt and China had the largest increases in stroke rates, with a rise of 1.4% in Egypt and 1.1% in China.

Worldwide, the stroke death rate fell slightly during the study period, from 66 deaths per 100,000 to 44, a 1.6% decrease. But that overall rate is still high, according to the authors of the study published online Dec. 15 in the journal Neurology.

The highest stroke death rates were in Eastern Europe (100 per 100,000); Central Asia (79); and Central Europe (67). The lowest rates were in high-income North America (16); Australasia (17); and high-income Asia Pacific (18).

“Since ischemic stroke is highly preventable, it is essential that more resources be devoted to prevention, especially in low- and middle-income countries where economic development is leading to changes in diet and lifestyle that may increase people’s risk factors for stroke,” Han said in a journal news release.

“It has been estimated that at least half of all strokes may be preventable if effective changes were made to common lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and inactivity,” Han added.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on stroke.

SOURCE: Neurology, news release, Dec. 15, 2021

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