BACKGROUND: Stroke is increasingly becoming a challenging public health issue in Africa, and the non-availability of data has limited research output and consequently the response to this burden. This study aimed to estimate the incidence and prevalence of stroke in Africa in 2009 towards improved policy response and management of the disease in the region.
METHODS: A systematic search of Medline, EMBASE and Global Health for original population-based or hospital-based studies on stroke was conducted. A random effect meta-analysis was conducted on crude stroke incidence and prevalence rates, and a meta-regression-like epidemiological model was applied on all data points. The fitted curve generated from the model was used to estimate incident cases of stroke and number of stroke survivors in Africa at midpoints of the United Nation population 5-year age groups for the year 2009.
RESULTS: The literature search yielded a total of 1227 studies. 19 studies from 10 African countries were selected. 483 thousand new stroke cases among people aged 15 years or more were estimated in Africa in 2009, equivalent to 81.2 (13.2-94.9)/100,000 person years. A total of 1.89 million stroke survivors among people aged 15 years or more were estimated in Africa in 2009, with a prevalence of 317.3 (314.0-748.2)/100000 population. Comparable figures for the year 2013 based on the same rates would amount to 535 thousand (87.0-625.3) new stroke cases and 2.09 million (2.06-4.93) stroke survivors, suggesting an increase of 10.8% and 9.6% of incident stroke cases and stroke survivors respectively, attributable to population growth and ageing between 2009 and 2013.
CONCLUSION: The findings of this review suggest the burden of stroke in Africa is high and still increasing. There is need for more research on stroke and other vascular risk factors towards instituting appropriate policy, and effective preventive and management measures.