Acute ischemic stroke (AIS ) occurs when blood flow to the brain is obstructed by a clot, resulting in the death of brain cells. Major risk factors include, but are not limited to, hypertension, smoking, alcohol intake, obesity, and age.

First-ever AIS includes those experiencing stroke for the first time, and represents approximately three-quarters of all AIS. While first-ever AIS diagnosed incidence rates are comparable across the five major European markets (5EU: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK) and Japan, urban China stands out.

Figure 1: 8MM, Diagnosed Incidence (Cases per 100,000 Population) of First-Ever AIS, 2019, Both Sexes, Ages ≥18 Years

China stroke prevalence

Source: GlobalData. © GlobalData

In urban China, the diagnosed incidence of first-ever AIS is, on average, twice the rate of the remaining eight major pharmaceutical markets (8MM: US, 5EU, Japan, urban China). In 2019, the diagnosed incidence of AIS ranges from roughly 100 cases per 100,000 population in both Italy and the UK, to an astounding 300 cases per 100,000 population in urban China, as shown in Figure 1. What is driving the high number of strokes in urban China?

GlobalData epidemiologists believe this is likely for two reasons. First, the distribution of stroke risk factors in urban China, with a higher prevalence of smoking, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease compared with the remaining 8MM; and second, the aging population of China. To help alleviate the burden of stroke in urban China, future prevention efforts and strategies should be aimed at lowering the prevalence of major stroke risk factors.