Stroke in South Asia: a systematic review of epidemiologic literature from 1980 to 2010

Neuroepidemiology. 2012;38(3):123-9. doi: 10.1159/000336230. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Background: Globally 15 million people have an acute stroke every year and one third of them die secondary to stroke events. Most research on stroke prevention and treatment is done in developed countries, yet more than 85% of strokes occur in developing countries. In particular, stroke remains an underrecognized cause of death and disability in South Asia.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review to identify reliable and comparable epidemiological evidence on stroke in South Asia from 1980 to 2010. Publications were screened for eligibility to identify only population-based stroke studies.

Results: Of the 71 studies retrieved, only 6 studies from South Asia gave us acceptable estimates of the burden of stroke. Population-based studies from South Asia have stroke prevalence in the range of 45-471 per 100,000. The age-adjusted incidence rate varied from approximately 145 per 100,000 to 262 per 100,000. Rural parts of South Asia have a lower stroke prevalence compared with urban areas.

Conclusions: Our review highlights the paucity of research data in South Asia. This must be addressed in order to accurately determine the burden of stroke in South Asia, so that specific policy recommendations can be formulated to combat the stroke epidemic in this region.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Survival Rate