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The World Stroke Organization has welcomed the recent release by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the ICD 11. The ICD is the global system for clinicians, administrators, and governments to report health statistics at all levels.

In the newly released ICD 11, cerebrovascular diseases form a single block under diseases of the nervous system. This is a major change compared to the previous classification, in which stroke was placed under diseases of the circulatory system. Furthermore, the new ICD 11 provides precise definitions of stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases for global use.

WSO works to improve stroke prevention, treatment and support globally. It represents over 50,000 stroke experts worldwide and has advocated for the change.  In welcoming the classification, Prof Werner Hacke, President of WSO said ‘By categorizing stroke correctly under diseases of the Nervous System, WHO is supporting global efforts by stroke professionals, survivors and carers to increase public recognition of stroke and to improve access to stroke treatment and care. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, accountable for 14m deaths and 116 DALYs in 2016.  We firmly believe that correct classification will help to save millions of lives and reduce the massive individual and global impact of stroke-related disabilities in years to come. With the world now focused on reducing the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases, this is a timely and important step.’

In recent years, opportunities to improve stroke outcomes have improved due to the development of effective acute stroke treatments such as thrombolytic therapy and thrombectomy. Access to effective acute therapies such as these are contingent upon the early recognition of symptoms from the brain and fast access to appropriately designed stroke treatment facilities with the appropriate neurovascular expertise. ‘Classifying stroke as a disease of the brain is important to facilitate awareness and early recognition, and reporting stroke accurately is instrumental to recognize the true burden of stroke among the spectrum of diseases.’ Said Prof Bo Norrving, Chair of the WSO Global Policy Committee, member of the ICD 11 neurology advisory group and Chair of the working group on cerebrovascular diseases.

Stroke and heart disease share most risk factors and several heart and circulatory conditions increase individual risk of stroke. Strokes and TIAs (mini-stroke) are also leading contributors to cognitive decline and dementia.

WSO will continue to prioritize clinical and public education on the linkages between stroke and heart disease, dementias and other Non-Communicable Diseases. The Organization already works in close partnership with the World Heart Federation and the World Hypertension League and partners in the wider non-communicable disease space as a member of the NCD Alliance and in the Coalition for Vascular Health. It will continue to advocate strongly for improved primary prevention policy to address common NCD risk factors, as well as for increased and more equitable access to screening and treatment for conditions including hypertension (high blood pressure), atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) all of which are specifically associated with higher stroke risk.

For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_self" style="outline: none;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact Mia Grupper, Executive Director of WSO on +41 22 906 9129