Poorer Countries Have Higher Rates of Stroke, Study Finds

Economic factors such as fewer health dollars spent per person may hamper prevention efforts

THURSDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- People who live in poorer countries and in countries that spend less money on health care are more likely to suffer a fatal stroke than people who live in wealthier nations, researchers have found.

The findings, published in the current issue of the journal Stroke, indicate that more stroke prevention efforts are needed, particularly in developing countries, the study authors noted.

"Not only is the economic wellness of a country important, but also significant is what proportion of their gross domestic product is expended on health," study lead author Dr. Luciano Sposato, director of the neurology department at the Vascular Research Institute at INECO Foundation in Buenos Aires, Argentina, said in a news release from the American Heart Association. "This is very important for developing health care strategies to prevent stroke and other cardiovascular diseases."

In conducting the research, the investigators examined 30 studies from 22 countries and identified links between stroke and three widely used economic indicators: gross domestic product (GDP), health expenditure per person and unemployment rate.

Although unemployment rate was found to have no affect on stroke risk, the study found lower GDP was associated with a 32 percent higher risk of stroke; a 43 percent jump in both death 30 days after a stroke and in hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in or near the brain); and a 47 percent increase in stroke among younger people.

Meanwhile, the researchers found that reduced spending on health care is associated with a 26 percent higher risk of strokes; a 45 percent increase in death 30 days following a stroke; and a 32 percent jump in hemorrhagic stroke. The rate of stroke among younger people also increased 36 percent.

"It is important to further discuss the health priorities for different countries," study co-author Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, director of stroke outcomes research at St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, explained in the news release. "This will provide the necessary background to help countries make the changes in how different resources and money are allocated."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.

Mary Elizabeth Dallas SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Oct. 27, 2011

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