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Stroke. 2009 Aug;40(8):2812-9. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.542944. Epub 2009 May 28.

Socioeconomic differences in stroke incidence and prognosis under a universal healthcare system.

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Department of Epidemiology, Local Health Authority ASL RME, v. S. Costanza 53, 00198 Rome, Italy.



Low socioeconomic position (SEP) is associated with high overall stroke mortality, but its contribution to stroke prognosis is unclear. We evaluated socioeconomic disparities in stroke incidence and poststroke outcomes.


We collected hospital discharge and mortality data for all 35- to 84-year-old Rome residents who had a first acute ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke in 2001 to 2004. We used a small-area SEP index. We calculated age-adjusted incidence rates and rate ratios by SEP for fatal and nonfatal stroke subtypes using Poisson regression. Logistic regression was used to study outcomes by SEP (30-day mortality, and among 1-month survivors: 1-year mortality, hospital readmissions for a successive stroke, and cardiovascular diseases).


A total of 10 033 incident strokes (75% ischemic) were observed. Incidence rates (per 100 000) for ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke were: 104 and 34 in men and 81 and 28 in women, respectively. There were socioeconomic disparities in stroke incidence in both genders (rate ratios between extreme SEP categories in ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke: 1.76; 95% CI,1.59 to 1.95; 1.50; 95% CI, 1.26 to 1.80 in men; 1.72; 95% CI, 1.55 to 1.91; 1.37; 95% CI, 1.15 to 1.63 in women). No association was found for SEP and mortality after stroke. Men with low SEP with an ischemic event were more likely to be hospitalized for a new stroke than men with high SEP. Women with low SEP with hemorrhagic stroke were more likely to be hospitalized for cardiovascular disease compared with women with high SEP.


Stroke incidence strongly differs between socioeconomic groups reflecting a heterogeneous distribution of lifestyle and clinical risk factors. Strategies for primary prevention should target less affluent people.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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