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 14.0%. Incidence rates were consistently higher in males than females.
  • Incidence is closely related to age. The standardised rate for under 75s in 2015/16 was 125 per 100,000 and for those aged 75 and over for the same period, it was 1,615.
  • The age and sex standardised incidence rate for CVD decreased by 14.0% from 301 cases per 100,000 population in 2006/07 to 259 per 100,000 in 2015/16.


  • The age-sex standardised mortality rates for CVD have fallen over the last 10 years from 136 per 100,000 in 2006 to 90 in 2015, a reduction of 33.5% in the last 10 years.

  • Between 2006 and 2015 the reduction in standardised mortality rates for CVD was slightly higher for males (34.0%) than females (33.1%).

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 September 2017.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end of March 2018.