Summary of Findings: Stroke in Developing Countries

  • Stroke ranked as the third leading cause of death in 1990 in developing countries and was responsible for about 2.4 percent of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide. Projections for 2020 place stroke fifth among the causes of disease burden for developing countries.

  • Prevalence and incidence rates for stroke vary dramatically among populations and may be influenced by economic, behavioral, and genetic factors, among others. Comparative epidemiological studies of stroke based on common definitions, methods, and modes of data presentation are needed to increase understanding of this disease.

  • Because of the high risk for death, long-term disability, and recurrence after a first stroke, prevention is key to reducing the public health impacts of cerebrovascular disease. And prevention is feasible, given the remarkable reduction in stroke mortality achieved in several developed countries.

  • Low-cost community health education programs that promote exercise, healthy diets, and smoking cessation may significantly reduce risk of stroke in developing countries.

  • Several low-cost treatments for hypertension, diabetes, and other conditions are likely to reduce significantly the incidence and severity of stroke and stroke-related vascular disease in developing countries.

  • Primary health care workers, nurses, and physicians play an important role in detecting, diagnosing, and treating hypertension and other conditions that increase stroke risk, and in ensuring compliance with treatment. Key resources such as stroke units in major hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and post-stroke community support programs may serve a minority of patients, but promote the development and introduction of appropriate, cost-effective methods and technology for stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.

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