Increasing burden of stroke in China: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence, incidence, mortality, and case fatality

Int J Stroke. 2023 Mar;18(3):259-267. doi: 10.1177/17474930221135983. Epub 2022 Nov 16.


Background: The epidemiology of stroke is evolving in China as the population undergoes demographic, lifestyle, and economic transitions. An updated review is pertinent to providing feedback on current, and in planning future, prevention and management strategies.

Aims: To identify high-quality epidemiological studies for quantifying the prevalence, incidence, mortality, and case fatality for stroke in China.

Methods: A search was undertaken across a range of bibliographic databases on 30 November 2021 without time limitation. Assessments were made of the risk of bias of the included studies. The outcomes were synthesized using a random-effects model. Subgroup analysis and meta-regression models were used to define the source of heterogeneity.

Results: Of 9407 identified records, 26 population-based studies were included. Due to significant heterogeneity across the studies, the original range for crude rates of indices was wide. The pooled annual prevalence was 1329.5/100,000 (95% confidence interval (CI) 713.6-2131.9, p < 0.001), incidence 442.1/100,000 (327.6-573.8, p < 0.001), mortality 154.1/100,000 (52.6-308.8, I2 = 100%, p < 0.001), and case fatality 35.8% (26.1% to 46.1%, I2 = 97%, p < 0.001). The prevalence and incidence of stroke have increased, but stroke-related case fatality has declined in China over recent decades. There are significant regional and rural-urban differences in incidence rates.

Conclusion: Despite improved public health policies and healthcare delivery, the burden of stroke remains high in China. Further coordinated efforts are required in prevention and community care to offset the likelihood of further expansion in the absolute number of stroke cases in this large population.

Keywords: China; Stroke; case fatality; incidence; mortality; prevalence; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population
  • Stroke* / epidemiology
  • Stroke* / therapy