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In Greece, as in other developed countries, stroke is a major contributor to death and disability. Moreover, unlike most other countries, and according to the World Health Organization, cerebrovascular disease is not the second or third but the most frequent cause of death (20% of all deaths) while ischaemic heart disease comes second (15% of all deaths). On any one day, stroke patients occupy about 1000 beds in all the public hospitals nationwide, and the annual cost of looking after these patients has risen to €176 million. The future looks bleaker still because it has been estimated that our stroke incidence will increase—perhaps by as much as 70% by the year 2025—as the result of increased life expectancy and lifestyle.
Although there have been important advances during the past decades in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of stroke, there are intrinsic difficulties in the Greek national health system which prevent this progress from being …
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