Stroke rates: Europe wins over US

When it comes to stroke rates, Europeans are way better off than Americans, according to a Dutch study.

The researchers looked at data from 2004 on 13,667 Americans and 30,120 Europeans from 11 countries. Their analysis shows that American men have 61% higher likelihood of suffering from stroke than their European counterparts. Also, American women were almost twice more likely to suffer from stroke than European women. This difference in stroke rates in the two sides of the Atlantic is most evident among the poor segment of the two regions’ population but less visible among the rich.

“….Poor Americans …were much more likely to have a stroke than poor Europeans, whereas the gap in stroke prevalence is less marked between rich Americans and rich Europeans.”

according study author Mauricio Avendano, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This is the same group who reported the research results showing that rich Americans are less likely to suffer from stroke at an early age than Americans in the low income group.

Higher stroke rate was associated with lower socioeconomic status as measured by wealth, income and education in both the US and Europe. However, the link between socioeconomic status and stroke prevalence is much more evident in the US than in most European countries.

The researchers speculate that the big difference between stroke rates in the US and Europe may be due to the following:

  • Europe offers universal health care which is accessible to every one. In the US, over 40 million people have no health insurance, according to the CDC.

“Some European health systems emphasize tackling stroke risk factors, as opposed to the US health-care system, which focuses more on treatment and may actually be more successful in keeping stroke cases alive.”

“a higher rate of risk factors and more barriers to health care may be among the reasons why stroke is more common in the United States than in Europe.”


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