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Scientists show disparity in stroke death rate in Europe and Central Asia [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

New international research shows that there is a growing discrepancy between countries in Europe and Central Asia concerning the number of people who die from stroke. Presented in the journal European Heart Journal, the findings reveal that the rate of stroke death has been dr...
Scientists show disparity in stroke death rate in Europe and Central Asia
New international research shows that there is a growing discrepancy between countries in Europe and Central Asia concerning the number of people who die from stroke. Presented in the journal European Heart Journal, the findings reveal that the rate of stroke death has been dropping in Western European nations since the late 1990s but has been rising in Central Asia and Eastern Europe including Kazakhstan, Poland and Russia.

Past studies found a significant link between the prevalence of high blood pressure and deaths from stroke, prompting many to consider that blood pressure control varies in different countries.

'Stroke mortality reflects the status of hypertension in the different regions of Europe. Monitoring changes over time can be extremely useful to watch the status of hypertension, the most important cardiovascular risk factor,' explains Professor Josep Redon, Scientific Director of the Research Institute (INCLIVA) at the University of Valencia, Spain, and lead author of the study.

Professor Redon and colleagues evaluated stroke data from the World Health Organization (WHO) for 35 nations between 1990 and 2006. They grouped the countries based on WHO classifications into 3 demographic categories: group A accounted for nations with very low child (under 5 years) and adult (15-59 years) mortality; group B represented nations with low child and adult mortality; and group C represented countries with low child and high adult mortality.

Assessing the trends in these countries during the reported period, the researchers found that around 1.23 million deaths from stroke were recorded in 2002, with women representing a higher share of that number compared to men. The team suggests that the number is higher for women because they live longer than their male counterparts. People aged over 75 accounted for 60% of the deaths, and those under 55 represented just 4% of the data.

Countries in groups B and C for the most part recorded the highest death rates compared to group A; Russia had 274 per 100 000 inhabitants, while Israel had 38 per 100 000. It should be noted that both Portugal and Croatia had double the average in group A; Portugal had 138 per 100 000 and Croatia had 139 per 100 000, while the group average is around 88 per 100 000.

While assessing the trends over time, the team discovered that deaths from stroke significantly fell by around 40 per 100 000 of the population in group A from 1990 to 2006, by around 37.5 per 100 000 in group B, and by around 20 per 100 000 in group C.

'The striking conclusion that emerges is that stroke mortality has entered a period of rapidly increasing inequality between countries,' the researchers say. 'Countries which had attained low mortality rates in the latter part of the 20th century experienced further declines, while countries with moderate as well as high stroke mortality (groups B and C in this report) at the start of the period being examined had a further unprecedented increase in this cause of death. If we assume that stroke mortality can serve as a proxy for average blood pressure in a population, the data presented here clearly demonstrate the necessity to adopt actions to increase the diagnosis, treatment and hypertension control in the countries where the burden of hypertension sequelae is still growing. Policies to increase the rate of blood pressure control offer the best approach, while primary prevention strategies must also be implemented.'

Stroke is the third most common cause of death after heart attacks and cancer, and accounts for 3% of adult disability. Scientists believe the rate of stroke will increase two-fold within the next nine years, triggered by high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Experts from the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain and the United States made strong contributions to this study.
Source: University of Valencia; European Heart Journal

Related information

Countries (9)

  • Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, United States
Record Number: 33365 / Last updated on: 2011-05-03
Category: Miscellaneous
Provider: EC