Prevalence, Incidence, and Mortality of Stroke in China: Results from a Nationwide Population-Based Survey of 480 687 Adults

Circulation. 2017 Feb 21;135(8):759-771. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.025250. Epub 2017 Jan 4.


Background: China bears the biggest stroke burden in the world. However, little is known about the current prevalence, incidence, and mortality of stroke at the national level, and the trend in the past 30 years.

Methods: In 2013, a nationally representative door-to-door survey was conducted in 155 urban and rural centers in 31 provinces in China, totaling 480 687 adults aged ≥20 years. All stroke survivors were considered as prevalent stroke cases at the prevalent time (August 31, 2013). First-ever strokes that occurred during 1 year preceding the survey point-prevalent time were considered as incident cases. According to computed tomography/MRI/autopsy findings, strokes were categorized into ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and stroke of undetermined type.

Results: Of 480 687 participants, 7672 were diagnosed with a prevalent stroke (1596.0/100 000 people) and 1643 with incident strokes (345.1/100 000 person-years). The age-standardized prevalence, incidence, and mortality rates were 1114.8/100 000 people, 246.8 and 114.8/100 000 person-years, respectively. Pathological type of stroke was documented by computed tomography/MRI brain scanning in 90% of prevalent and 83% of incident stroke cases. Among incident and prevalent strokes, ischemic stroke constituted 69.6% and 77.8%, intracerebral hemorrhage 23.8% and 15.8%, subarachnoid hemorrhage 4.4% and 4.4%, and undetermined type 2.1% and 2.0%, respectively. Age-specific stroke prevalence in men aged ≥40 years was significantly greater than the prevalence in women (P<0.001). The most prevalent risk factors among stroke survivors were hypertension (88%), smoking (48%), and alcohol use (44%). Stroke prevalence estimates in 2013 were statistically greater than those reported in China 3 decades ago, especially among rural residents (P=0.017). The highest annual incidence and mortality of stroke was in Northeast (365 and 159/100 000 person-years), then Central areas (326 and 154/100 000 person-years), and the lowest incidence was in Southwest China (154/100 000 person-years), and the lowest mortality was in South China (65/100 000 person-years) (P<0.002).

Conclusions: Stroke burden in China has increased over the past 30 years, and remains particularly high in rural areas. There is a north-to-south gradient in stroke in China, with the greatest stroke burden observed in the northern and central regions.

Keywords: demographics; incidence; mortality; prevalence; stroke; surveys and questionnaires.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Stroke / pathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult