Stroke: key points

Stroke is a common type of cerebrovascular disease (CVD) that predominantly affects older people.  


  • Risk factors for stroke include: high blood pressure; high blood cholesterol; poor diet; obesity; smoking; physical inactivity; alcohol consumption above recommended limits; diabetes.

  • Cerebrovascular disease develops as a result of problems with the blood vessels supplying the brain. The incidence rate for cerebrovascular disease decreased over the last decade by 15.6%. Incidence rates were consistently higher in males than females.

  • Incidence is closely related to age. The standardised rate for under 75s in 2014/15 was 126 per 100,000 and for those aged  75 and over for the same period, it was 1,625.

  • The age and sex standardised incidence rate for CVD decreased by 15.6% from 309 cases per 100,000 population in 2005/06 to 261 per 100,000 in 2014/15. 


  • Stroke and CVD mortality rates in Scotland have fallen over time. The absolute gap in mortality has narrowed relative to both the UK and to the EU as a whole. For the most recent 2 years available, the Scottish rate has been slightly below the EU rate.

  • The age-sex standardised mortality rates for CVD have fallen steadily over the last 10 years from 146 per 100,000 in 2005 to 87 in 2014, a reduction of 40.5% in the last 10 years.

  • Between 2005 and 2014 the reduction in standardised mortality rates for CVD was fairly similar between males (40.8 %) and females (40.2%). 

Standardised rates

  • Please note incidence and mortality rates are standardised using the 2013 European standard population. For more information, see Appendix A1 of ISD's Stroke Statistics Update.

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in March 2016.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end of March 2017.