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This study aims to investigate urban-rural differences in characteristics and risk factors of ischemic stroke in northern China.The present cross-sectional study was based on the High-risk Population Screening and Intervention Project for Stroke. The cluster sampling method was used to select urban and rural screening sites in northern China. By collecting information and screening the data, patients with ischemic stroke were obtained and a control group with similar gender, age, and regional distribution was selected among the nonischemic stroke patients. Then, the demographic and risk factors of patients with ischemic stroke were described and analyzed.The prevalence of ischemic stroke in northern China was 2.88%, with a greater prevalence in rural areas than in urban areas (3.32% vs 2.43%), and a greater prevalence in males than in females (3.06% vs 2.73%). Furthermore, rural stroke patients were younger than urban stroke patients. Hypertension, family history of stroke, and smoking were the top 3 independent risk factors for ischemic stroke. Overweight/obesity and low education were associated with increased ischemic stroke in urban areas, while low education was associated with less ischemic stroke in rural areas. In addition, the prevalence of alcoholism, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and obvious overweight/obesity was greater in urban areas, while high-salt diet and low education and income were more prevalent in rural regions. Moreover, the smoking index was higher in rural areas than in urban areas.The characteristics and risk factors of ischemic stroke differ between rural and urban areas, which could be used to design specific preventative measures.