Global risk of stroke is ‘startling’: One-quarter of people worldwide at risk for a stroke after age 25, new data reveals
- Scientists looked at stroke risk after age 25 in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016
- The global risk increased from about 23% in 1990 to about 25% in 2016
- China had the highest risk for both men and women at nearly 40 percent
- Sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest risk in 2016 at 11.8 percent
- Researchers say doctors need to start discussing stroke prevention earlier in their patients’ lives than previously thought
17:00 EST, 19 December 2018
22:08 EST, 19 December 2018
One-quarter of people around the world is at risk for having a stroke after age 25, a new study has found.
There was nearly a five-fold difference between the regions with the lowest risk – sub-Saharan Africa – and those with the highest risk in East Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.
Researchers found that the global risk increased from about 23% in 1990 to about 25% in 2016
The US fell in the middle of the pack with about a 19 percent risk for stroke among both sexes.
But in China, the stroke risk after age 25 jumped to nearly 40 percent – the highest among any country examined.
The team, from the University of Washington in Seattle, says the findings are evidence that doctors need to discuss how to prevent strokes earlier in their patients’ lives than previously believed.
A new study found that East Asia – namely China – was the region with the highest risk for stroke after age 25 and sub-Saharan Africa was the lowest
Our findings are startling,’ said Dr Gregory Roth, an assistant professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington.
‘It is imperative that physicians warn their patients about preventing strokes and other vascular diseases at earlier points in patients’ lives.’
For the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the team used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study – which measures mortality due to diseases, injuries and risk factors.
The authors focused on first-time strokes that were either ischemic – occurring when a blood vessel leading to the brain becomes blocked – or hemorrhagic, a stroke that occurs when a weakened blood vessels bursts.
Data was studied from 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2016.
Previous studies used age 45 as the beginning of a stroke risk, but this was the first study to lower the age to 25.
Findings showed that the global risk from age 25 onward increased from about 23 percent in 1990 to about 25 percent in 2016.
Stroke risks varied significantly between geographic locations.
Three regions had the highest lifetime risk: East Asia at 38.8 percent, Central Europe at 31.7 percent and Eastern Europe at 31.6 percent.
China was found to have the greatest overall risk and was followed by countries all falling in Eastern Europe: Latvia, Romania, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
TOP 10 COUNTRIES WITH HIGHEST LIFETIME STROKE RISK
1. China: 39.3%
2. Latvia: 37.0%
3. Romania: 36.2%
4. Montenegro: 36.0%
5. Bosnia and Herzegovina: 35.7%
6. Macedonia: 35.2%
7. Serbia: 33.8%
8. Bulgaria: 33.4%
9. Albania: 33.4%
10. Croatia: 33.0%
The US fell among the middle of the 195 countries analyzed with a 19 percent risk for a stroke after age 25 among both sexes.
The only countries with risk rates below 11 percent were in sub-Saharan Africa: Central African Republic, Lesotho, Somalia, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Averaged out, the risk rate came out to an estimated 11.8 percent.
‘The lower risk of lifetime stroke in sub-Saharan Africa does not necessarily represent a lower incidence of stroke or more effective prevention and treatment strategies,’ said senior author Dr Roth.
‘On the contrary, people there are merely at higher risk of dying of another cause first.’
There was no significant difference between the risk for men and women.
China was the country with the highest risk for men at just above 41 percent and Latvia had the greatest risk for women at nearly 42 percent.
Dr Roth says the results are evidence that doctors need to start discussing with their patients lifestyle changes to lower stroke risk including healthy diets, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and drinking.
He also encourages health professionals and policymakers to advocate for lowering the cost of drugs that control cholesterol and high blood pressure.