Stroke in Arab countries: a systematic literature review.


Benamer HT 1, Grosset D 2.

1-Neurology Department, New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom, 2-Department of Neurology, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, United Kingdom

J Neurol Sci. 2009 Sep 15;284(1-2):18-23.


Stroke is second only to ischaemic heart disease as a cause of death, and over a third of stroke deaths occur in developing countries. Arab countries constitute populations with a similar lifestyle and diet that may influence stroke risk, type and survival after stroke, as well as other characteristics in comparison to Western and Oriental populations. Therefore, a review of published reports of stroke in Arab countries was undertaken to provide a background for designing future stroke studies in Arab populations. Thirty-one articles related to incidence, prevalence, types, risk factors and outcome of stroke in Arab countries were identified by keyword searching of Medline and Embase, and review of references in all relevant papers. Studies were available for Saudi Arabia (n=16), Qatar (n=4), Libya (n=3), Kuwait (n=2), Jordan (n=1), United Arab Emirates (n=1), Bahrain (n=1), Tunisia (n=1), Iraq (n=1), and Sudan (n=1). The publication dates ranged from 1983-2008. The annual stroke incidence ranged from 27.5 to 63 per 100,000 population and prevalence was between 42 and 68 per 100,000 population. Ischaemic stroke was the commonest subtype in all series. However, one series from Sudan had a 41% rate of intracerebral haemorrhage, which is more similar to East Asian countries. Non-lacunar infarction occurred more frequently than lacunar infarcts in all but two series. Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidaemia, and cardiac disease were the commonest risk factors. The case-fatality rate at 30 days was between 10 and 17.5%. Therefore, the incidence and prevalence of stroke in Arab countries are lower than the Western world but within the range reported in Chinese populations. Stroke types and risk factors are similar, but an apparently higher rate of lacunar infarction in some settings needs further investigation. There is therefore a significant opportunity for further evaluation of stroke in Arab countries, especially in unstudied areas such as the populous countries of Egypt, Algeria, Syria, and Morocco.

Keywords: Stroke; Incidence; Prevalence; Types; Risk factors; Outcome; Arab countries