Epidemiology of Stroke - an overview

  • MC Nwosu


Stroke is a major public health problem worldwide. It is the third leading cause of death in industrialized countries and ranks among the 5 most common causes of hospi-tal deaths in adults in Africa. The incidence rate for all strokes and for stroke subtypes varies widely between and within popula-tions. In industrialised countries of Europe and North America – where half of the strokes occur before age 75 years, - 25,000 to 85,000 new cases of a significantly ischaemic strokes occur yearly.

In Southeast Asia and also in Africa – where peak age is 1 to 2 decades earlier than in industrialized countries and 0.9% - 4% of hospital admissions are due to strokes – a significantly higher proportion of haemorrhagic strokes occur. Approximately for every 3 female stroke patients there are 5 to 4 males up to the age of 85yrs (in industrialised countries). Beyond this age females predominate.

The heterogeneity in stroke is related to variations in the prevalence of risk factors in different populations and populations segments. Age, sex, racial/ethnic, and gene-tic factors are largely unmodifiable and account for persistence of differences in stroke incidence after adjusting for the modifiable factors.

In the passing decade there was a progressive decline in stroke incidence in industrialized nations largely attributable to multifaceted intervention strategies directed at hypertension, diabetes mellitus hyperlipi-deamia, dietary, alcohol and hard drug habits, cigarette smoking, and level of physical activity. The overall health status of various communities and the level of infections control are probable significant contributors to stroke occurrence whose roles require better definition.

There is need for improved stroke data collection in developing nations in order to elucidate the relevant factors magnitude and trends in stroke in these nations.

Jnl of Med Investigation & Practice Vol.3 2001: 14-22

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