National Income Linked To Stroke and Heart Disease Worldwide

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WHO comes up with a concrete analysis from 192 countries?

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have come up with an analysis of stroke and heart disease statistics garnered by the World Health Organization (WHO) from 192 countries that indicates that number of people killed by these two diseases varies, and is closely tied to, national income. As reported in the journal Circulation, the scientists at UCSF observed that United States and other developed countries have more casualties and disability from heart disease than stroke – quite opposite to the situation in the developing nations with lower national incomes.

Heart disease kills the most
Through this finding, health officials worldwide can design solutions that best suit the needs of developing countries. Anthony S. Kim, MD, MAS, and assistant professor of neurology at UCSF who jointly performed the study with S. Claiborne Johnston, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and associate vice chancellor of research at UCSF says, “In general, heart disease is still the number one cause of death worldwide, but there is quite a lot of variation across the globe.” A wide variation in the mortality rate for stroke – 25 deaths per 100,000 in Seychelles to 249 deaths per 100,000 in Kyrgyzstan has been underscored by the research. On the contrary, United States suffered about 45 deaths per 100,000 people owing to stroke.

Principal causes of death worldwide – stroke and heart disease

Stroke and heart disease are two diseases that kill the most but have a common pathology. While restricted, reduced flow of blood to vital organs causes both heart disease and stroke, they also have many other risk factors in common – such as smoking, physical inactivity, high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension.

However, heart diseases affect the heart and stroke affects the brain, and with different tissues being affected by these two diseases, the symptoms, medical care and treatment, duration of treatment and costs incurred vary greatly.

Heart disease kills more in the developed nations
Kim and Johnston collectively studied the income data obtained from the World Bank and the data from the WHO’s Global Burden of Disease project and compared disability and death from stroke and heart disease for each country. “There was a striking association with national income,” Kim concluded. Heart disease, for example, kills the most number of people in the U.S. as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke comes down at number four. The same holds true for most of the developed Europe, Australia, most of North America and the Middle East, says the WHO report.

Stroke kills more in developing nations
Developing countries, on the contrary, face exactly the opposite situation. Stroke remains the number one killer and burden in China. The same holds true for most of South America, Asia and Africa. Overall, about 40 percent of nations worldwide bear a higher burden of stroke and not heart diseases. “This is significant,” added Kim, “because knowing that the burden of stroke is higher in some countries focuses attention on developing a better understanding of the reasons for this pattern of disease and may help public health officials to prioritize resources appropriately.”