Rationale and design of INTERSTROKE: a global case-control study of risk factors for stroke

Neuroepidemiology. 2010;35(1):36-44. doi: 10.1159/000306058. Epub 2010 Apr 8.


Stroke is a major global health problem. It is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability. INTERHEART, a global case-control study of acute myocardial infarction in 52 countries (29,972 participants), identified nine modifiable risk factors that accounted for >90% of population-attributable risk. However, traditional risk factors (e.g. hypertension, cholesterol) appear to exert contrasting risks for stroke compared with coronary heart disease, and the etiology of stroke is far more heterogeneous. In addition, our knowledge of risk factors for stroke in low-income countries is inadequate, where a very large burden of stroke occurs. Accordingly, a similar epidemiological study is required for stroke, to inform effective population-based strategies to reduce the risk of stroke.

Methods: INTERSTROKE is an international, multicenter case-control study. Cases are patients with a first stroke within 72 h of hospital presentation in whom CT or MRI is performed. Proxy respondents are used for cases unable to communicate. Etiological and topographical stroke subtype is documented for all cases. Controls are hospital- and community-based, matched for gender, ethnicity and age (+/-5 years). A questionnaire (cases and controls) is used to acquire information on known and proposed risk factors for stroke. Cardiovascular (e.g. blood pressure) and anthropometric (e.g. waist-to-hip ratio) measurements are obtained at the time of interview. Nonfasting blood samples and random urine samples are obtained from cases and controls. Study Significance: An effective global strategy to reduce the risk of stroke mandates systematic measurement of the contribution of the major vascular risk factors within defined ethnic groups and geographical locations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Epidemiologic Research Design*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / etiology