Prevention of stroke: a strategic global imperative

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Abstract

The increasing global stroke burden strongly suggests that currently implemented primary stroke prevention strategies are not sufficiently effective, and new primary prevention strategies with larger effect sizes are needed. Here, we review the latest stroke epidemiology literature, with an emphasis on the recently published Global Burden of Disease 2013 Study estimates; highlight the problems with current primary stroke and cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention strategies; and outline new developments in primary stroke and CVD prevention. We also suggest key priorities for the future, including comprehensive prevention strategies that target people at all levels of CVD risk; implementation of an integrated approach to promote healthy behaviours and reduce health disparities; capitalizing on information technology to advance prevention approaches and techniques; and incorporation of culturally appropriate education about healthy lifestyles into standard education curricula early in life. Given the already immense and fast-increasing burden of stroke and other major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which threatens worldwide sustainability, governments of all countries should develop and implement an emergency action plan addressing the primary prevention of NCDs, possibly including taxation strategies to tackle unhealthy behaviours that increase the risk of stroke and other NCDs.

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