Stroke: the number of younger people is increasing

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Scientific studies have shown that more and more younger people are affected by the life-threatening disease. A certain change in diet can help to reduce the risk of the disease.

A stroke is a threatening cardiovascular disease with far-reaching consequences, writes the German Stroke Foundation on its website. Every year around 270,000 people in this country suffer a stroke – and the number is rising. The number of those affected is increasing worldwide. Experts are now reporting that more and more younger people are also getting it.

Second leading cause of death worldwide

As the German Society for Neurology eV (DGN) writes in a recent press release, the burden of disease caused by strokes has been increasing sharply worldwide for 30 years: the number of acute strokes has increased by around 70 percent since 1990 and the number of stroke-related deaths by 43 percent. Around 85 percent more people live with the consequences of a stroke (prevalence).

According to a new GBD (Global Burden of Diseases) study published in The Lancet Neurology, there were 12.2 million new strokes and 101 million people affected in 2019 (data from 204 countries).

This high number is also due to demographic change, on the one hand because there are more people (the world population rose from 5.32 billion in 1990 to 7.79 billion in 2020), and also more elderly people because life expectancy is increasing .

According to the information, the disease burden includes incidence, prevalence and mortality as well as the years of life lost due to disability (DALYs / “disability-adjusted life-years”: the measure adds up the years of life lost due to deaths and years with disease-related reduced quality of life).

For 2019, 143 million stroke-related DALYs and 6.55 million deaths were calculated. Strokes are therefore the second leading cause of death globally (11.6 percent of all deaths are caused by strokes).

Disproportionate increase in new cases among younger people

The rise in the stroke rate in low-wage countries as well as the disproportionate increase in the incidence and frequency of illness in the group of people under the age of 70 are worrying.

While the relative rate of new cases fell by 17 percent among the elderly, an increase of 15 percent was recorded among the under-70s.

According to the experts, the “rejuvenation” of those affected could be due to the global increase in risk factors.

19 risk factors named

In the survey, a total of 19 risk factors for the occurrence of strokes were named and weighted. The main risk factor is high blood pressure (hypertension), which accounts for a total of 80 million DALYs or 55.5 percent of all DALYs.

This is followed by obesity (24.3 percent of all stroke-related DALYs), diabetes mellitus (20.2 percent), environmental or air pollution (20.1 percent) and smoking (17.6 percent). In sixth place is high table salt consumption as a relatively unknown risk factor with a share of 12.3 percent.

“It is not new that a high-salt diet can increase blood pressure, nor is it that it increases the stroke rate,” explains DGN President, Prof. Dr. Christian Gerloff, UKE Hamburg. “However, a current study now impressively shows that people with an increased risk of stroke can effectively counteract this by avoiding salt.”

Reduce the risk of stroke by reducing the intake of table salt

The study, published in the journal “The New England Journal of Medicine”, examined the effect of a dietary salt reduction on the frequency of strokes in a population of high-risk patients.

The scientific work involved 20,995 people from 600 localities in rural China. The participants had either already suffered a stroke or were at least 60 years old and had high blood pressure.

The cohort was randomized in equal parts according to place of residence. In the intervention group, the residents used table salt substitutes or salt substitute products (mineral salt mixture of 75 percent sodium chloride and 25 percent potassium chloride); in the control group, the usual table salt was still used (100 percent sodium chloride).

With regard to the clinical safety of the saline substitute, potassium-associated events were evaluated. The participants (49.5 percent female) were on average 65.4 years old, 88.4 percent suffered from high blood pressure and 72.6 percent had a history of stroke. The mean follow-up time was 4.74 years.

As a result, the stroke rate in the intervention group was 14 percent lower than in the control group. Likewise the total deaths (all causes: 39.28 versus 44.61 events). “It is up to everyone to proactively reduce their own stroke risk,” says the DGN President. (ad)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.

Sources:

  • German Society for Neurology: October 29th is World Stroke Day: More and more young people are affected !, (Access: October 13, 2021), German Society for Neurology
  • Feigin VL, Stark BA, Johnson CO et al. (GBD 2019 Stroke Collaborators): Global, regional, and national burden of stroke and its risk factors, 1990–2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019; in: The Lancet Neurology, (veröffentlicht: 03.09.2021), The Lancet Neurology
  • Neal B, Wu Y, Feng X et al.: Effect of Salt Substitution on Cardiovascular Events and Death; in: The New England Journal of Medicine, (veröffentlicht: 16.09.2021), The New England Journal of Medicine
  • German Stroke Foundation: We summarize – What is a stroke ?, (accessed: October 13, 2021), German Stroke Foundation

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.

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