Stroke Epidemiology

Stroke ranks as the country’s third leading cause of death, behind only cancer and heart disease. Stroke data indicate that the incidence may be increasing. Stroke remains a major global healthcare problem. Recent data compiled by the American Heart Association (AHA) for 2008 show that the annual incidence of new or recurrent stroke in the United States is about 780,000, with approximately 600,000 of these strokes being first attacks.

Among adults age 20 and older, the estimated prevalence of stroke in 2005 was 5.8 million in the United States, resulting in >150,000 deaths annually, with 4.8 million stroke survivors alive today. From 1988 to 1997, the age-adjusted stroke hospitalization rate grew 18.6% (from 560 to 664 per 100 000), while total stroke hospitalizations increased 38.6% (from 592,811 to 821,760 annually).1 now 2

Consistent with the pathophysiology and symptoms of stroke, stroke is a leading cause of adult impairment, with 20% of stroke survivors requiring institutional care after 3 months and up to 30% being severely and permanently disabled.1 The only approved treatments of acute ischemic stroke involve restoring blood flow to the affected region by using thrombolytics or mechanical devices that physically remove clots. However, the use of thrombolytics (tPA) is limited due to the therapeutic window of < 3-6 hours post onset of stroke symptoms such that only a small fraction of stroke patients receive this therapy, thus effective prevention remains the best treatment for reducing the burden of stroke. Following the completion of a stroke, there is little therapy to offer patients to promote recovery other than physical, occupational, and speech therapy.