At the start of a four-day conference on the prevention and treatment of strokes in Vienna, an expert has warned that mortality from strokes is rising in Asia due to rapid lifestyle changes in the continent.
"This condition has overtaken cancer and assumed epidemic proportions mainly because of its spread in Asia," said Michael Brainin, the head of the international conference.
The increase in strokes worldwide has been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a sedentary lifestyle as well as the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and certain drugs.
Researchers, however, say that strokes can be prevented or their consequences limited once a stroke has occurred through prompt medical intervention.
In Austria, 40 percent of victims are treated in less than 90 minutes. The time is a world record.
There are 32 specialised units in the country of 8.3 million people. Deaths due to stroke there fell from 14,737 in 1970 to 5,611 in 2006, according to health ministry figures.