Introduction and objectives: Stroke is a leading cause of mortality and disability worldwide. Regional data is essential to assess the local impact of the disease and to plan rational adjudication of public health resources. Stroke prevalence data in Latin America are scant with only one prevalence study completed in Argentina in 1991. We determined prevalence of stroke in a sample representative of the Argentinean population.
Methods: EstEPA is a population-based study to assess the prevalence, incidence and mortality of stroke in General Villegas, Buenos Aires, Argentina. A prevalence study was performed in two phases in an urban area of 18,275 habitants. First, a door-to-door survey of randomly selected houses was taken using a structured questionnaire for the detection of possible strokes. This was followed by a neurological evaluation for final adjudication. Data about stroke subtypes, vascular risk factors, medications and diagnostic tests were collected.
Results: A total of 2156 door-to-door surveys were conducted and 294 were positive for possible stroke. After neurological evaluation, there were 41 confirmed stroke cases. The prevalence of stroke adjusted to Argentinean population older than 40 years was 1981 per 100,000 habitants with higher prevalence in men than women (27,75‰ vs 13,72‰, p=0.003). Prevalence increased with age with a higher prevalence at 70-75 years. Prevalence was 16.5‰ for ischemic stroke and 3‰ for intraparenchymal hemorrhage. Also, 6 transient ischemic attacks were diagnosed with a prevalence of 3‰. Most common vascular risk factors in stroke cases were hypertension (88%), obstructive sleep apnea (51%) and dyslipidemia (46%). At the time of evaluation 88% of ischemic stroke subjects were taking antiplatelets and/or anticoagulants.
Conclusion: Approximately 2% of subjects older than 40 years are stroke survivors. This prevalence, likely representative of the Argentinean population at large, was higher than previously described in the region. It was comparable to data from Western developed countries with similar age and gender distribution. Aging of the Argentinean population in recent years and better preventive strategies may be responsible, at least in part, for these findings.