A Cuban study indicates that stroke prevalence in Havana and Matanzas provinces is similar to that reported for Europe and North America, and higher than that observed in other Latin American countries.

Prevalence of stroke among adults aged 65 years and older was 7.8 percent, and was higher in men. Risk factors found in this population were history of hypertension, low HDL cholesterol, history of ischemic heart disease, carrier of one or two apolipoprotein E4 genotype alleles, male sex and older age.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the world, with the highest death rates in low- and middle-income countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 5.71 million people died from stroke in 2004, and it is estimated that this number will climb to 6.3 million in 2015 and 7.8 million in 2030.

In 2001, 85.5 percent of the world’s stroke deaths occurred in developing countries. In the past 20 years, in developed countries, there has been a 29 percent decline in the incidence of all types of stroke, especially in women, and a 25 percent reduction in death due to stroke, except for hemorrhagic stroke.

In Cuba, stroke is also the third cause of death. According to WHO and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in 2000, stroke was the first or second leading cause of death in 25 Latin American and Caribbean countries, and in 2002, it caused 272,000 deaths in 27 countries of the region.

Developing countries are still undergoing a rapid, unparalleled demographic transition in which chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are progressively assuming greater importance. Of the 35 million deaths from NCDs in 2005, 80 percent occurred in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of the world’s population lives.

1. Llibre JJ, Valhuerdi A, Fernandez O, et al. Prevalence of stroke and associated risk factors in older adults in Havana City and Matanzas Provinces, Cuba (10/66 population-based study). MEDICC Review 2010; 12(3): 20-26. (open access)