• Asia;
  • hemorrhage;
  • ischemic stroke;
  • socioeconomic factors;
  • stroke

Stroke rates in middle-aged people are five to ten times higher in Pakistan, India, Russia, China, and Brazil, compared with the United Kingdom or United States. South Asia is home to 20% of the world's population and has one of the highest burdens of cardiovascular disease in the world. With an aging population, there is an expected increase in the number of stroke cases and a corresponding increase in the burden of stroke in developing countries including South Asian countries like Pakistan. Limited data from prior studies in developing countries indicate that stroke epidemiology differs between these and Western countries. These differences include a higher incidence of stroke at younger ages, a higher prevalence of hemorrhagic stroke, and higher age-specific prevalence rates of stroke in women. The reasons for these differences in stroke epidemiology in developing countries are not clear. This may be explained by higher prevalence of established stroke risk factors, or potential nontraditional risk factors such as water pipe smoking, use of daldaghee or naswaar, and paan chewing; hepatitis and rheumatic heart disease may also contribute to these differences. Acute and long-term stroke treatment has shown limited progress in Pakistan like other developing countries because of poor awareness of patients and general physician on stroke symptomatology, management of stroke risk factors, lack of specialized stroke units in the country, very low utilization of thrombolytic therapy because of financial constraints and, above all, poor knowledge of physicians on the role of rehabilitation and its different aspects in the management of post stroke disability.