Stroke in Asia: a global disaster

Int J Stroke. 2014 Oct;9(7):856-7. doi: 10.1111/ijs.12317.

Abstract

Although stroke is a world-wide problem, the burden of stroke is particularly serious in Asia; its mortality is higher than in Europe or North America. The situation in Asia is dichotomized. Stroke mortality and case fatality has been declining in northern-eastern countries such as Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and urbanized areas of China. This is attributed to both the risk factor control and stroke care improvement. However, declining stroke incidence is rarely observed, which is in part due to rapidly aging population. As a result, there is an increase in the number of stroke survivors who require long-term, costly care. The extremely low birth rate and relatively insecure social health system markedly increases the caregiver burden. The problem in southern Asian countries, such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia is more fundamental. With the improving control of infectious diseases, life expectancy is prolonged. However, risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cigarette smoking become prevalent, and are poorly controlled. Stroke neurologists, organized stroke centers, and diagnostic tools are insufficient, which has resulted in high stroke fatality and mortality. Throughout Asia, the most urgent priority should be the primary stroke prevention through promoting a healthy lifestyle, e.g. low salt intake, regular physical exercise, stopping smoking, government sectors should take a stronger initiative to accomplish this. The rapidly aging populations and stroke burden will shrink the economy and destabilize the society, not only in Asia but also globally unless appropriate efforts are promptly initiated, this may result in a global disaster.

Keywords: Asia; prevention; stroke.

MeSH terms

  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Stroke / therapy