Each year in Europe there are 1.6 million new stroke cases, with a total prevalence of 3,5 million of cases. Stroke accounts for 405,000 deaths (9%) in men and 583,000 (13%) deaths in women each year.
The rate of new strokes and stroke deaths, when adjusting for age, has decreased over the last two decades in all European countries. Decreasing rates of new strokes are generally attributed to successful prevention strategies, e.g. hypertension control and smoking cessation. On average, improvements have been larger in Western European countries – increasing the already existing difference between East and West. However, due to the ageing of the European population and the strong association between stroke risk and age, the numbers of people having a stroke continues to rise.
Disability can occur as a result of a stroke depending on the area of the brain that is most affected and how quickly treatment was given.
The stroke survivors can experience a wide range of negative physical and psychological consequences that affect patients’ ability to complete daily activities at home and to participate in the community.
Together with the welcome improvement in survival rates, there are increasing numbers of people living with the effects of stroke, needing specialist supportive care and rehabilitation, resulting in a growing burden of stroke on families, societies and health care systems.
In 2015, direct healthcare costs alone added up to €20 billion in the EU, while indirect costs of stroke due to the opportunity cost of informal care by family and friends and lost productivity caused by morbidity or death were estimated to be another €25 billion.
The economic burden of stroke is borne by society as a whole via tax payments and insurance contributions, but significantly also by the individual stroke survivors and their families and friends. As the number of strokes and the number of stroke survivors is expected to increase over the coming decades, the economic impact of stroke will need more attention.
The analysis of differences in stroke epidemiological figures and in different management of the disease should help in focusing the determinants of inequalities, and proposing interventions to narrow disparities between EU countries.
Furthermore, the project will specifically provide EU added value through the following activities:
1. Creation of a “Golden rules for physical activity in European stroke patients” document;
2. Organisation of a Train the Trainers EU course for health professionals and physicians on the application of the protocol and how inform and communicate to the patients about the importance of physical activity.
All the findings of the project will be shared through the project dissemination plan.