New data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that at least a quarter of people over the age of 25, all over the world, will suffer a debilitating stroke within their lifetime. They found that stroke risk in those 25 and older increased from 22.8 percent in 1990 to 24.9 percent in 2016. Of course, the incident rate will vary between countries, but the United States the rate looks to be somewhere between 23 and 29 percent.
According to lead study author Dr. Gregory Ruth, these findings suggest that adults need to start thinking more about all long-term health risks, including stroke, at a younger age.
To make this determination, Roth, and his colleagues, collected data from the Global Burden of Disease study. With this data, they estimated the lifetime risk for developing a stroke in those older than 25.
There are two major forms of stroke. These are ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke makes up 85 percent of strike incidents and is caused by blood clots, which prevent blood from reaching the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke makes up the other 15 percent and is caused by bleeding in the brain.
Looking at data from 2016, Roth’s investigation team found that risk range of stroke for people over the age of 25 was quite dramatic—between 8 and 39 percent—and was largely dependent upon where you live in the world. For example, the Chinese experience the highest risk of stroke (at higher than 39 percent lifetime risk), with populations in Central and Eastern Europe in the next highest risk groups. The data shows that sub-Saharan Africa is the population at the lowest risk for stroke.
Those most at risk were men in China (whose risk increased more than 41 percent) and women in Latvia (whose risk increased 41.7 percent). China also showed an interesting disparity between men and women, with a stroke risk differential of 36.7 percent.
While the data does not show any discrimination between gender, stroke risk odds can increase according to other factors. Obesity, smoking propensity, and exercise (or lack, thereof) are among the lifestyle factors that could be in play when determining stroke risk. Roth hopes, then, these new findings could motivate public health agencies around the world to increase and improve their public education efforts.