People living in poor countries or countries that spend proportionately less on health-care are about 30 per cent more likely to have a stroke, a new study by St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto shows.
They are also more likely to die from a stroke within 30 days, have a stroke at a younger age or have a hemorrhagic stroke – a more severe type caused by a burst blood vessel bleeding in or near the brain.
“The results show there is a high association between the wealth of a country, the portion of their GDP put into health-care and outcomes for stroke patients,” said Professor Gustavo Saposnik of medicine, senior author of the study and director of the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St. Michael’s Hospital.
The correlation likely exists because these countries often don’t invest enough in resources for the prevention and management of stroke risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes, he said.
“If you can reduce the risk factors, you reduce the risk of stroke.”
Instead of looking at data from individuals or families,Saposnik and colleagues took a unique approach from previous research and analyzed the data from regions and countries. They linked stroke risk, 30-day death rate, hemorrhagic stroke incidence and age at disease onset to three economic indicators: GDP, money spent on health per capita and unemployment rate.
Unlike the other two indicators, unemployment rate did not affect any of the other stroke outcomes.
The results were publishedin Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The authors said the findings expose the potential consequences of low investment on health.
“Hopefully this research will provide the necessary background to help countries make the changes in how different resources and money are allocated,”Saposnik said.