Epidemiology and the global burden of stroke

World Neurosurg. 2011 Dec;76(6 Suppl):S85-90. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2011.07.023.


Objective: Stroke remains one of the most devastating of all neurological diseases, often causing death or gross physical impairment or disability. As numerous countries throughout the world undergo the epidemiological transition of diseases, trends in the prevalence of stroke have dramatically changed.

Methods: All major international epidemiological articles published during the past 20 years addressing the global burden of stroke were reviewed. A focus was placed upon better defining current and future trends in surveillance, incidence, burden of disease, mortality, and costs associated with stroke internationally.

Results: Despite the fact that various surveillance systems are used to identify stroke and its sequela around the world, it is clear that stroke remains one of the top causes of mortality and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) lost globally. Concerning trends include the increase of stroke mortality and lost DALYs in low- and middle-income countries. The global economic impact of stroke may be dire if effective preventive measures are not implemented to help decrease the burden of this disease.

Conclusion: The global burden of stroke is high, inclusive of increasing incidence, mortality, DALYs, and economic impact, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The implementation of better surveillance systems and prevention programs are needed to help track current trends as well as to curb the projected exponential increase in stroke worldwide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness
  • Developing Countries
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / economics*
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Stroke / therapy