Facts and Statistics

Stroke was the second most frequent cause of death worldwide in 2011, accounting for 6.2 million deaths (~11% of the total).
Approximately 17 million people had a stroke in 2010 and 33 million people have previously had a stroke and were still alive.
Between 1990 and 2010 the number of strokes decrease by approximately 10% in the developed world and increased by 10% in the developing world.
Overall two thirds of strokes occurred in those over 65 years old.
It is ranked after heart disease and before cancer. In Europe stroke is a leading cause of disability, and recently declined from the third leading to the fourth leading cause of death. Geographic disparities in stroke incidence have been observed, including the existence of a “stroke belt” in the southeastern United States, but causes of these disparities have not been explained.

The incidence of stroke increases exponentially from 30 years of age, and etiology varies by age. Advanced age is one of the most significant stroke risk factors. 95% of strokes occur in people age 45 and older, and two-thirds of strokes occur in those over the age of 65. A person’s risk of dying if he or she does have a stroke also increases with age. However, stroke can occur at any age, including in childhood.

Family members may have a genetic tendency for stroke or share a lifestyle that contributes to stroke. Higher levels of Von Willebrand factor are more common amongst people who have had ischemic stroke for the first time. The results of this study found that the only significant genetic factor was the person’s blood type. Having had a stroke in the past greatly increases one’s risk of future strokes.

Men are 25% more likely to suffer strokes than women, yet 60% of deaths from stroke occur in women. Since women live longer, they are older on average when they have their strokes and thus more often killed (NIMH 2002). Some risk factors for stroke apply only to women. Primary among these are pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and the treatment thereof (HRT).