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World Stroke Day: World Stroke Organisation calls for action on prevention as global stroke mortalit


The World Stroke Organisation (WSO) is calling on governments and healthcare systems to implement recommendations on stroke prevention set out in the new WSO-Lancet Neurology Commission report. The Commission report, based on a comprehensive review of survey data, guidelines and expert interviews, projects a 50% rise in strokes that will claim 9.7 million lives a year by 2050. Over 90% of stroke deaths will be in low- and middle-income countries.

Driven by the increased prevalence of stroke risk factors, including hypertension and diabetes among a younger population, the incidence of stroke is increasing in young and middle-aged people (age <55 years) contributing to global costs soaring to $2.31 trillion by 2050. As for stroke mortality, the prevalence of stroke-related disability is also increasing at a faster pace in LMICs than in high-income countries.

“The devastation caused by stroke deaths and disabilities is not inevitable,” said WSO President Prof Sheila Martins. “Stroke is highly preventable, with easily identifiable risk factors such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes, high cholesterol, tobacco and alcohol use. These manageable risks account for around 90% of all strokes. There are clear and cost-effective recommendations and interventions that can be easily implemented, and that we know will save lives. WSO is committed to providing technical support to help governments develop and implement coherent national stroke surveillance and prevention strategies that can dramatically reduce the burden of stroke. It can be done, and the cost of inaction is simply too high to wait any longer. We need the world to act now.”

Key recommendations from the Commission report include improving access to affordable medications for primary and secondary stroke prevention as part of Universal Health Coverage, potentially funded through taxation of tobacco, alcohol and sugar. Developing the public health workforce is also highlighted, with a focus on implementing protocol-based task-sharing/shifting from highly-trained doctors and nursing staff to trained community health workers who can engage and support individuals in identifying and addressing their stroke risk. Financial incentives should also be offered to improve retention of staff and encourage relocation to rural areas. The report also recommends action to improve health literacy in relation to stroke prevention.

  1. The World Stroke Organisation is the only global body solely focused on stroke. With around 3,000 individual members and over 100 society members spanning every global region, WSO represents over 55,000 stroke specialists in clinical, research and community settings.

  2. The WSO-Lancet Report provides data, barriers, recommendations and research gaps on stroke prevention, acute treatment and rehabilitation.

  3. The WSO- Lancet Neurology Commission received funding from the World Stroke Organisation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Health Research Council of New Zealand, and National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia and was supported by the National Institutes of Health (USA). It was conducted by researchers from the World Stroke Organisation – Lancet Neurology Commission Stroke Collaboration Group. A full list of authors and their institutions is available in the report.

  4. World Stroke Day was instituted by the World Stroke Organisation in 2006 and is commemorated on Oct 29th each year. The day is a highlight of the year-round public awareness campaign work of WSO.

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