Risk factors for ischemic stroke and its subtypes in Chinese vs. Caucasians: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Stroke. 2015 Jun;10(4):485-93. doi: 10.1111/ijs.12508. Epub 2015 Apr 23.


Background: Chinese populations are reported to have a different distribution of ischemic stroke subtypes compared with Caucasians.

Aims: To understand this better, we aimed to evaluate the differences in prevalence of risk factors in ischemic stroke and their distributions among ischemic stroke subtypes in Chinese vs. Caucasians.

Summary or review: We systematically sought studies conducted since 1990 with data on frequency of risk factors among ischemic stroke subtypes in Chinese or Caucasians. For each risk factor, we calculated study-specific and random effects pooled estimates in Chinese and Caucasians separately for: prevalence among ischemic stroke; odds ratios, comparing prevalence for each ischemic stroke subtype vs. all others. We included seven studies among 16,199 Chinese, and eleven among 16,189 Caucasian ischemic stroke patients. Risk factors studied were hypertension, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, ischemic heart disease, hypercholesterolemia, smoking and alcohol. Chinese ischemic stroke patients had younger onset of stroke than Caucasians, similar prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, smoking and alcohol, and significantly lower prevalence of atrial fibrillation, ischemic heart disease and hypercholesterolemia. Risk factor associations with ischemic stroke subtypes were mostly similar among Chinese and Caucasian ischemic stroke patients. Compared with all other ischemic subtypes, diabetes was more common in large artery stroke, atrial fibrillation and ischemic heart disease in cardioembolic stroke, and hypertension and diabetes in lacunar stroke.

Conclusion: Our study showed a lower prevalence of atrial fibrillation, ischemic heart disease and hypercholesterolemia in Chinese, and mostly similar risk factor associations in Chinese and Caucasian ischemic stroke patients. Further analyses of individual patient data to allow adjustment for confounders are needed to confirm and extend these findings.

Keywords: Chinese; Whites; ischemic stroke; risk factor; subtype.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Asian People
  • Brain Ischemia / ethnology*
  • China
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / ethnology*
  • White People