This article presents current knowledge on stroke epidemiology. It covers recent data on the global burden of stroke, disparities, silent stroke, traditional and novel risk factors, and stroke triggers as well as the clinical implications of these findings.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of chronic disability in the United States, and the burden of stroke worldwide is even greater. Large international and US case-control and prospective cohort studies have demonstrated disparities in stroke mortality and incidence. They have also shed light on the relative importance of several well-established, modifiable risk factors for ischemic stroke, such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, other cardiac diseases, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, abdominal obesity, diet, and TIA. Research on other putative stroke risk factors (including inflammation, infection, renal disease, depression, stress, and others) is ongoing. Identifying stroke triggers may be another way to minimize stroke incidence if high-risk time windows can be determined.
Stroke is a major global health burden. While many of the risk factors for stroke are well known and have been studied for decades, recent studies continue to shed light on the distribution and severity of these problems.
Address correspondence to Dr Mitchell Elkind, Neurological Institute, 710 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relationship Disclosure: Dr Elkind has received personal compensation for activities with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Genentech, Inc., Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Inc., and Tethys Biosciences as a speaker, expert witness, or consultant. Dr Elkind has received personal compensation in an editorial capacity for Neurology. Dr Elkind has received research support from diaDexus, Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi Pharmaceuticals Partnership.
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