Gauging the True Threat of Stroke

Stroke is one of the biggest threats to the health of the American public. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the United States in 2018. Moreover, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer strokes each year. A new study highlights just how many people are at risk of stroke worldwide. 

A Worldwide Problem 

One in four – that is how many people over the age of 25 could be hit by stroke during their lifetimes. That is the finding of a 2018 study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine. This report differed from previous studies on this topic, in that it sought to estimate stroke risk from the age of 25 rather than 45.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Gregory Roth, did not sugar coat his summary of his team’s work. “Our findings are startling. It is imperative that physicians warn their patients about preventing strokes and other vascular diseases at earlier points in patients’ lives,” stated Roth, the Assistant Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. “It is imperative that physicians warn their patients about preventing strokes and other vascular diseases at earlier points in patients’ lives.” 

It should be noted that that stroke risk for those over 25 varies notably based on location. For example, the lifetime risk of stroke for this demographic was 38.8% in East Asia. In Central and Eastern Europe, the risk rates were 31.7% and 31.6%, respectively. At 11.8%, Sub-saharan Africa had the lowest threat of stroke for those over the age of 25. 

Below are the top ten countries for stroke risk for those aged 25+: 

1. China: 39.3% 

2. Latvia: 37.0% 

3. Romania: 36.2% 

4. Montenegro: 36.0% 

5. Bosnia and Herzegovina: 35.7% 

6. Macedonia: 35.2% 

7. Serbia: 33.8% 

8. Bulgaria: 33.4% 

9. Albania: 33.4% 

10. Croatia: 33.0%

For those concerned about experiencing stroke in the later years, Dr. Roth offers these words. “It is clear that younger adults need to think about long-term health risks. They can make a real difference by eating healthier diets, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.”

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