Incidence and mortality of ischemic stroke in Croatia is significantly higher than in many other developed European countries. Here, we aimed to evaluate underlying conditions of this unacceptably high disease burden. An observational prospective cohort study of first-ever ischemic stroke patients identified in a population-based incidence study (N=751) (study 1, S1) and a concurrent case-control trial (215 patients, 125 controls, S2) were conducted in the county of Varazdin from 2007-2010. Atrial fibrillation (AF) was common (36.1% in S1, 40.9% in S2) and mostly (>50%) unrecognized before the index event. In a multivariate analysis, odds of stroke increased with tobacco smoking (OR=3.95, 95%CI 1.33-10.8), unhealthy diet (OR=2.12, 1.12-4.01) and AF (OR=9.40, 4.01-22.0), and decreased with higher education (OR=0.33, 0.11-0.98), moderate alcohol consumption (OR=0.48, 0.25-0.93), higher fasting HDL (OR=0.14, 0.07-0.30) and pre-stroke use of anticoagulants (OR=0.09, 0.01-0.59), antihypertensive drugs (OR=0.52, 0.27-1.00) and statins (OR=0.29, 0.12-0.69). Fourteen-day case fatality was 10.8% (S1) and 6.1% (S2) and the risk was higher with AF, cardioembolic stroke, older age, higher fasting serum glucose, and lower with acute aspirin. Among the acute phase survivors, 30.9% died over the subsequent 1-3 years (p<0.05). We conclude that the incidence of ischemic stroke in Croatia is related to conventional risk factors and largely due to a high rate of unawareness and inadequate treatment of predisposing morbidity.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging