The age-adjusted prevalence rate of stroke varied considerably across countries. It was highest in the United States and lowest in the southern Mediterranean European countries of Spain, Italy and Greece, as well as Switzerland.
The higher prevalence of stroke in the United States and the lower stroke prevalence in Mediterranean populations may be due in part to cross-country differences in risk factors and to barriers to care in the United States.
Southern Mediterranean countries have a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and fish and lower in fats, which partly explains why heart disease is so much lower in these populations than in northern Europe and the United States, Avendano said.
However, for stroke, the picture is more complicated. For instance, although Italy has relatively low stroke prevalence, former studies indicate that Italians have a similar or higher stroke incidence rate than people in other European countries or the United States. Thus, the results on prevalence may also reflect poor stroke survival in Italy, which will result in a lower prevalence of stroke.
Prevalence is an a estimate of the total number of cases of a disease existing in a population during a specified period. While incidence is an estimate of the number of new cases of a disease that develop in a population, usually in a 1-year period.
Higher stroke prevalence was associated with lower socioeconomic status as measured by wealth, income and education, but these associations were stronger in the United States than in most European countries.
Beyond the contribution of specific risk factors, policies that differ dramatically b
|Contact: Bridgette McNeill|
American Heart Association