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Background: Epidemiological data on stroke in Zimbabwe are scarce and few clinical studies have been performed to date.
Methods: A retrospective review of the medical records of patients admitted for stroke during the year 2012 was performed at three tertiary hospitals. Sociodemographic data were recorded alongside with comorbidities and outcomes. Scoping over a period of one year using records of patients admitted for stroke helped to quantify and qualify the stroke problem. Descriptive analysis was done using STATA version 13.0.
Results: A total of 450 stroke cases, (63% women) were included in the final analysis. The proportion of stroke cases among the admissions was 0.61%. Mean age of the stroke patients was 61.6±16.8 years (95% CI=60.1; 63.2). Risk factors were hypertension (58.5%), diabetes (18%) and HIV, (14%)). Diagnosis was clinical and 39.4% had a CT scan. Mean length of hospital stay was 8.1±5.6 days with a significance difference noted among hospitals (p<0.001). In-hospital mortality was 24.9%, 95% CI (20.9; 29.0%). Mortality was associated with place of admission (p<0.001). Gender and side of stroke were significantly associated (p<0.001).
Conclusions: The sociodemographic characteristics mirrored findings from elsewhere. Mean age was higher than reported for Zimbabwe in the nineties and lately for Malawi. Majority of patients were female, elderly and hypertensive in line with findings from other countries. Presence of HIV is supported by recent studies from Malawi and South Africa. The relationship between gender and side affected needs further research. There is need to standardise acute care through proper diagnosis to reduce mortality. There is need to support caregivers post-discharge.
Data-handling is poor and there is limited capacity for Sub Saharan Africa hospitals to provide optimal stroke care. This may have long term implications on the outcome of survivors and caregivers. There is need of vigilance in acute stroke care.