"Prevalence" is an a estimate of the total number of cases of a disease existing in a population during a specified period. While "incidence" is an estimate of the number of new cases of a disease that develop in a population, usually in a 1-year period.
Higher stroke prevalence was associated with lower socioeconomic status as measured by wealth, income and education, but these associations were stronger in the United States than in most European countries.
"Beyond the contribution of specific risk factors, policies that differ dramatically between Europe and the United States may play a role," Avendano said. This includes healthcare access, which is universal in Europe but not in the United States, and "the preventive orientation of some European systems aimed at tackling stroke risk factors, as opposed to the U.S. healthcare system, which focuses more on treatment and may actually be more successful in keeping stroke cases alive."
Furthermore, policies related to nutrition and transportation for example may make Americans more prone to less physical activity and less healthy diets than their counterparts in many European countries, he said.
"Risk factors alone do not account for the differences we found, which points to the role of broader healthcare and structural policies," he said.
The study was partially funded by the U.S. National Institute of Aging, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and several British government departments.
Statements and conclusions of study authors published in the American Heart Association\American Stroke Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The American Heart Association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.