Background: The epidemiology of stroke in Latin-American populations and variation of subtypes between communities are unclear. Our aim was to ascertain prospectively the incidence of first-ever stroke in the predominantly Hispanic-Mestizo population of Iquique, a city in the northern desert region of Chile.
Methods: We prospectively identified all possible cases of stroke and transient ischaemic attacks between July 1, 2000, and June 30, 2002, from several overlapping sources. Patients were rapidly assessed by two field neurologists. Standard definitions for incident cases, stroke, transient ischaemic attack, pathological type, and infarction subtype were used. All cases identified were adjudicated by at least two stroke neurologists and followed up at 6 months. Incidence rates of first-ever strokes were calculated from the population of Iquique (214 526) according to the national census of 2002.
Findings: Of 380 cases of stroke identified, 292 were incident. CT scans were done in 267 (91%) patients and the mean time to scan was 2.2 days. The hospital admission rate was 71% (207/292). The overall age-adjusted incidence rate of first-ever stroke was 140.1 per 100,000 (95% CI 124.0-156.2). The incidence rates per 100,000 according to pathological type were: infarcts 87.3, intracerebral haemorrhage 27.6, and subarachnoid haemorrhage 6.2. The 30 day and 6-month case-fatality rates were 23.3% and 33.0%, respectively.
Interpretation: Our results show incidence rates of stroke similar to those reported in other community studies. Although the proportion of intracerebral haemorrhages was higher than reported in previous studies, the overall incidence was not, which could indicate a slightly lower incidence of ischaemic strokes in this population than in other countries. The prognosis was similar to that found in other population-based studies.