Dr. Anthony S. Kim and Dr. S. Claiborne Johnston of the University of California, San Francisco, found that developing countries tend to suffer more death and disability by stroke than heart disease -- opposite the situation in the United States and other countries with higher national incomes.
"In general, heart disease is still the No. 1 cause of death worldwide, but there is quite a lot of variation across the globe," Kim says in statement.
The study found stroke ranged from a worldwide low of 25 deaths per 100,000 in the island nation of Seychelles to a high of 249 deaths per 100,000 in Kyrgyzstan. In the United States, there are 45 deaths per 100,000 people due to stroke.
Both stroke and heart disease are caused by reduced or restricted blood flow to vital organs, and they share some common risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity and smoking, the researchers say. However, the two diseases diverge in terms of symptoms, approaches to critical care, follow-up treatment and the duration and cost of recovery, the study says.
The study, published in the journal Circulation, found stroke claims more lives and is associated with greater disease burdens in China and throughout many parts of Africa, Asia and South America -- nearly 40 percent of all nations have a greater burden of stroke compared to heart disease.