AUSTIN (KXAN) – Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide, and researchers predict the number of stroke-related deaths to climb by 50% by 2050, according to a new report.
A stroke occurs when a blockage cuts off blood supply to a region of the brain or when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. It can cause brain damage, long-term disability and is a leading cause of death in the U.S. Strokes in the U.S. are also more common in non-Hispanic Black adults than White adults and in lower-income communities, per the CDC.
Factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, little exercise and alcohol use can raise a person’s risk of having a stroke, according to the CDC.
While stroke is a leading cause of death in the U.S., the number of stroke-related deaths is increasing at a faster pace in low-income countries than in wealthier ones.
A group of researchers with the World Stroke Organization–Lancet Neurology Commission Stroke Collaboration Group predicted that number of stroke-related deaths globally will rise from 6.6 million deaths in 2020 to nearly 10 million by 2050, according to the report.
In 2020, around 86% of stroke deaths occurred in lower-income countries which they expect to increase to over 90% in the same time frame.
Further, the researchers pointed out that the incidence of stroke among people under 55 is increasing in countries of all income levels.
In hopes of slowing the growing rates, the researchers posited recommendations related to surveillance, prevention, acute care and rehabilitation. In addition to saving lives, the authors hope it will reduce the financial burden attached to strokes, which they estimate cost now around $900 billion annually and predict the cost to spike up to $2.31 trillion annually by 2050.
Factors like unhealthy lifestyles, air pollution, lack of access to quality health care contribute to the high burden of stroke in lower-income countries.
“Despite available evidence-based interventions, there are huge intra-country and inter-country variations in stroke surveillance, prevention, acute care, and rehabilitation worldwide, with fewer services in [lower and middle-income countries]. Effective planning of stroke surveillance, prevention, acute care and rehabilitation is needed to tackle the global burden of stroke,” the researchers concluded in their report.