Stroke in China: advances and challenges in epidemiology, prevention, and management

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With over 2 million new cases annually, stroke is associated with the highest disability-adjusted life-years lost of any disease in China. The burden is expected to increase further as a result of population ageing, an ongoing high prevalence of risk factors (eg, hypertension), and inadequate management. Despite improved access to overall health services, the availability of specialist stroke care is variable across the country, and especially uneven in rural areas. In-hospital outcomes have improved because of a greater availability of reperfusion therapies and supportive care, but adherence to secondary prevention strategies and long-term care are inadequate. Thrombolysis and stroke units are accepted as standards of care across the world, including in China, but bleeding-risk concerns and organisational challenges hamper widespread adoption of this care in China. Despite little supporting evidence, Chinese herbal products and neuroprotective drugs are widely used, and the increased availability of neuroimaging techniques also results in overdiagnosis and overtreatment of so-called silent stroke. Future efforts should focus on providing more balanced availability of specialised stroke services across the country, enhancing evidence-based practice, and encouraging greater translational research to improve outcome of patients with stroke. (Lancet Neurol 2019; 18: 394–405)

 

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