Poor Countries More Affected by Strokes

Less wealthy countries affected by stroke more than heart disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In the United States deaths from strokes are declining, dropping from the No. 3 cause of death to No. 4. But poor countries are still reporting disproportionately higher rates of disability and fatalities from strokes.

New research published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association indicates that countries with lower national incomes report a higher number of deaths and disability from strokes as compared to ischemic heart disease.

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Ischemic heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization Global Burden Disease Program. Ischemic heart disease accounts for 12.2 percent of all deaths while strokes cause 9.7 percent. But the leading cause varies based on the country. While heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States, countries such as China report stroke is the leading cause of death.

Researchers said the findings suggest heart disease and stroke rates should be considered separately for global disease reporting and prevention efforts.

Dr. Anthony S. Kim, co-author of the study and assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-author Dr. S. Claiborne Johnston examined WHO data on death rates and disease burden, discovering that stroke death rates exceeded heart disease death rates in 74 of 192 countries -- nearly 40 percent. In 62 countries stroke deaths and disabilities surpassed heart disease.

The Pacific island republic of Kiribati topped both lists with a death rate and a disease burden from stroke that was 11 times higher than fatality and disease burden from ischemic heart disease, while Azerbaijan had a mortality rate from ischemic heart disease three times that from stroke, and Turkmenistan had a disease burden from ischemic heart disease more than five times that from stroke.

More generally, stroke death rates and disease burden were found to be disproportionately higher than those for ischemic heart disease in African and Asian countries, while they were lower in North American, western and northern European countries, and Australia.

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Review Date: 
July 5, 2011
Last Updated:
July 10, 2011