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Publication date: 
December 19, 2018


The lifetime risk of stroke has been calculated in a limited number of selected populations. We sought to estimate the lifetime risk of stroke at the regional, country, and global level using data from a comprehensive study of the prevalence of major diseases.


We used the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2016 estimates of stroke incidence and the competing risks of death from any cause other than stroke to calculate the cumulative lifetime risks of first stroke, ischemic stroke, or hemor- rhagic stroke among adults 25 years of age or older. Estimates of the lifetime risks in the years 1990 and 2016 were compared. Countries were categorized into quin- tiles of the sociodemographic index (SDI) used in the GBD Study, and the risks were compared across quintiles. Comparisons were made with the use of point estimates and uncertainty intervals representing the 2.5th and 97.5th percentiles around the estimate.


The estimated global lifetime risk of stroke from the age of 25 years onward was 24.9% (95% uncertainty interval, 23.5 to 26.2); the risk among men was 24.7% (95% uncertainty interval, 23.3 to 26.0), and the risk among women was 25.1% (95% uncertainty interval, 23.7 to 26.5). The risk of ischemic stroke was 18.3%, and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke was 8.2%. In high-SDI, high-middle–SDI, and low- SDI countries, the estimated lifetime risk of stroke was 23.5%, 31.1% (highest risk), and 13.2% (lowest risk), respectively; the 95% uncertainty intervals did not overlap between these categories. The highest estimated lifetime risks of stroke according to GBD region were in East Asia (38.8%), Central Europe (31.7%), and Eastern Europe (31.6%), and the lowest risk was in eastern sub-Saharan Africa (11.8%). The mean global lifetime risk of stroke increased from 22.8% in 1990 to 24.9% in 2016, a relative increase of 8.9% (95% uncertainty interval, 6.2 to 11.5); the competing risk of death from any cause other than stroke was considered in this calculation.


In 2016, the global lifetime risk of stroke from the age of 25 years onward was approximately 25% among both men and women. There was geographic variation in the lifetime risk of stroke, with the highest risks in East Asia, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.)


GBD 2016 Lifetime Risk of Stroke Collaborators. Global, Regional, and Country-Specific Lifetime Risks of Stroke, 1990 and 2016. The New England Journal of Medicine. 19 Dec 2018. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1804492.