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Circulation. 2011 Jul 19;124(3):314-23. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.018820. Epub 2011 Jul 5.

Global variation in the relative burden of stroke and ischemic heart disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0114, USA.



Although stroke and ischemic heart disease (IHD) have several well-established risk factors in common, the extent of global variation in the relative burdens of these forms of vascular disease and reasons for any observed variation are poorly understood.


We analyzed mortality and disability-adjusted life-year loss rates from stroke and IHD, as well as national estimates of vascular risk factors that have been developed by the World Health Organization Burden of Disease Program. National income data were derived from World Bank estimates. We used linear regression for univariable analysis and the Cuzick test for trends. Among 192 World Health Organization member countries, stroke mortality rates exceeded IHD rates in 74 countries (39%), and stroke disability-adjusted life-year loss rates exceeded IHD rates in 62 countries (32%). Stroke mortality ranged from 12.7% higher to 27.2% lower than IHD, and stroke disability-adjusted life-year loss rates ranged from 6.2% higher to 10.2% lower than IHD. Stroke burden was disproportionately higher in China, Africa, and South America, whereas IHD burden was higher in the Middle East, North America, Australia, and much of Europe. Lower national income was associated with higher relative mortality (P<0.001) and burden of disease (P=0.001) from stroke. Diabetes mellitus prevalence and mean serum cholesterol were each associated with greater relative burdens from IHD even after adjustment for national income.


There is substantial global variation in the relative burden of stroke compared with IHD. The disproportionate burden from stroke for many lower-income countries suggests that distinct interventions may be required.

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