The number of people who die or develop some kind of disability after suffering a stroke could double by 2030. According to research taken from the Global and Regional Burden of Stroke in 1990-2010 study, more strokes among the world’s younger populations are expected if preventative strategies are not implemented.

“The worldwide stroke burden is growing very fast,” said lead researcher Professor Valery Feigin, director of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences at AUT University in New Zealand. “There is now an urgent need for culturally acceptable and affordable stroke prevention, management and rehabilitation strategies to be developed and implemented worldwide."

Prof. Feigin led a team of international researchers through a data search to establish the incidence, prevalence, and premature death and disability caused by ischaemic and hemorrhagic strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is cut off by obstruction in a blood vessel. A hemorrhagic stroke is the most deadly type of stroke and occurs as a result of high blood pressure and an unhealthy lifestyle.

"This is the first study to compare incidence and impacts of stroke between countries on a global scale,” explained Feigin. “Now every country in the world has estimates of their stroke burden, based on the best available evidence.”

Results showed a 25 percent increase in stroke cases among people between the ages of 20 and 64 in the past 20 years. The research team also revealed that 83,000 people under the age of 20 experience a stroke each year, accounting for 0.5 percent of all strokes. A total of 16.9 million people experienced their first stroke in 2010 while the number of deaths caused by a stroke increased by 26 percent over the past 20 years.

Researchers indicate that people below the age of 75 who live in low-income and middle-income countries are more susceptible to having a stroke. On the other hand, people from high-income countries are less likely to suffer a stroke, thanks to improved education, prevention, care, and diagnosis. Areas where stroke incidences skyrocketed included countries in eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and south and east Asia.

"Key priorities in the quest to reduce the global and regional burden of stroke are prevention of haemorrhagic stroke, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries, and in people younger than 75 years,” said Graeme J. Hankey, a clinical professor at the Royal Perth Hospital in Australia. “Population-based mass strategies to reduce consumption of salt, calories, alcohol, and tobacco by improving education and the environment will complement high-risk strategies of identifying those at risk of haemorrhagic (and ischaemic) stroke.”