The socio-economic impact of stroke is considerable world-wide. Stroke is assuming an increasing impact in terms of media attention, patient and career knowledge, service developments and research. It is estimated that there are 4.5 million deaths a year from stroke in the world and over 9 million stroke survivors. Almost one in four men and nearly one in five women aged 45 years can expect to have a stroke if they live to their 85th year. The overall incidence rate of stroke is around 2-2.5 per thousand population. The risk of recurrence over 5 years is 15-40%. It is estimated that by 2023 there will be an absolute increase in the number of patients experiencing a first ever stroke of about 30% compared with 1983. There is a total prevalence rate of around 5 per thousand population. One year after a stroke, 65% of survivors are functionally independent, stroke comprising the major cause of adult disability.