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Stroke. 2000 Jul;31(7):1588-601.

International trends in mortality from stroke, 1968 to 1994.

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  • 1National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.



The World Health Organization data bank is an invaluable source of information for international comparison of mortality trends. We present rates and trends in mortality from stroke up to 1994, with a particular emphasis on the last 10-year period. Data are presented for men and women in 51 industrialized and developing countries from different parts of the world.


We included all deaths from cerebrovascular disease for the population aged 35 to 84 years from all the countries in which death certificates were estimated to be available for at least 80% for the period from 1968 to 1994. Age-standardized mortality rates from stroke were calculated for each country for the last available 5 years. Time trends were calculated by using ordinary linear regression and are presented for the entire study period and for 3 separate time periods: 1968 to 1974, 1975 to 1984, and 1985 to 1994. The last 10-year period was further subdivided into 2 parts of 5 years each. We analyzed data separately for men and women and for groups aged 35 to 74 years and 75 to 84 years.


The highest rates at the end of the study period for the population aged 35 to 74 years were observed in eastern Europe and previous Soviet Union countries (309 to 156/100 000 per year among men and 222 to 101/100 000 per year among women), Mauritius (268/100 000 per year among men and 138/100 000 per year among women), and Trinidad and Tobago (185/100 000 per year among men and 134/100 000 per year among women). Relatively low to average rates (<100/100 000 per year among men and <70/100 000 per year among women) were reported for Western Europe, with an exception of Portugal (162/100 000 per year among men and 95/100 000 per year among women). The countries with lowest stroke mortality rates at the end of the study period, such as the United States, Canada, Switzerland, France, and Australia, experienced steep declining trends. However, the slope of the decline was substantially reduced during the last 5 years in these countries. Mortality from stroke increased most in the eastern European countries, especially during the last 5 years. Among other high-risk populations, no change in stroke mortality trends was observed in Mauritius, whereas somewhat declining trends were seen in Trinidad and Tobago.


We observed large differences in mortality rates from stroke around the world together with a wide variation in mortality trends. A widening gap was observed between 2 groups of nations, those with low and declining stroke mortality rates and those with high and increasing mortality, in particular, between western and eastern Europe. Eastern European countries should initiate actions aiming at the reduction of stroke risk, perhaps by looking at the examples of Japan and Finland and the other countries that have been the most successful in reducing previously very high mortality from stroke.

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