Objectives: To determine the age specific prevalence of impairment and disability relating to hemiplegic stroke in one rural area of Tanzania.
Methods: During the yearly house to house census of the study population of 148 135 (85 152 aged 15 and over) in August 1994, specific questions were asked to identify those who might be disabled from stroke. People thus identified were subsequently interviewed and examined by one investigator. In those in whom the clinical diagnosis of stroke was confirmed a more detailed interview and examination relating to risk factors and recovery was carried out.
Results: One hundred and eight patients, 61 men and 47 women, were identified with a median age of 70 (range 18-100). Median age at first stroke was 65 years. The age specific rates in this study were lower than previous studies in developed countries. All were cared for at home although 23 (21%) were bedbound.
Conclusions: Although prevalence of impairment and disability related to stroke in this population as a whole was low this is mainly explained by the age structure, with less than 6% being aged 65 and over. Age standardised rates for stroke with residual disability were about half those found in previous studies in developed countries. Death from stroke in Africa may be higher but data are limited. With the demographic transition stroke is likely to become a more important cause of disability in sub-Saharan Africa.