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20-Year Study Shows Increase in Ischemic Strokes

A new study shows the most common type of stroke
increased almost 9% annually over a 20-year period in China as its economy
boomed. At the same time, deaths from strokes decreased.

Ischemic strokes, the most common type of stroke, are caused by blood

"The changes in patterns of stroke have raised new challenges and the
need to adjust priorities to prevent stroke in China," researcher Dong Zhao
says in a news release.

Dong notes that "risk factors have become a new problem and challenge
for public health in China."

The study, funded by the Chinese government and the World Health
Organization and published in the
journal Stroke, loo ked at nearly 14,600 strokes among people ages
25-74 in seven districts throughout Beijing from 1984 to 2004.

Unhealthy Lifestyle to Blame?

Risk factors for stroke include obesity, elevated cholesterol , diabetes, high blood
pressure , and smoking. The researchers write that other studies that
approximately cover the same time period show that:

  • More and more people became obese or overweight, especially those who live
    in rural areas.

  • From 1983 to 2002, fat and daily cholesterol intake shot up in urban areas
    and nearly tripled in the countryside.

  • Cholesterol levels in the blood increased 24% from 1984
    to 1999.

  • Diabetes skyrocketed 97% from 1994 to 2002.

Dong says cigarette smoking changed very little during the time of the

The study shows that the decrease in fatal strokes is likely due to improved
health care such as control of high blood
pressure and stroke
treatment .

The researchers note that stroke is a top killer in China, estimated to be
the "second or third leading cause of death, even with dramatic economic
development in recent years."

By Kelley Colihan
Reviewed by Louise Chang
©2005-2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved

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