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Neuroepidemiology. 2008;30(1):51-7. doi: 10.1159/000115750. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Prevalence of stroke and stroke symptoms: a population-based survey of 28,090 participants.

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Department of Neurology, Charité Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



Stroke is associated with a considerable burden of disease worldwide. Data about prevalence needs regular updating to facilitate health care planning and resource allocation. The purpose of the present study was to determine stroke prevalence in a large urban population in an easy and reliable way.


In a population survey a total of 75,720 households with at least 1 person >or=50 years received information about stroke symptoms by mail. In addition, the Stroke Symptom Questionnaire assessing the prevalence of stroke and of stroke symptoms was sent. Stroke prevalence was determined by a single physician-diagnosed stroke-screening question or by the combination of the latter with reported visual impairment and/or articulation problems in the past.


A total of 28,090 persons responded (37.5%). Mean (+/-SD) age was 64.4 +/- 9.7 years, 62.9 +/- 8.9 for men (43.3%), and 65.5 +/- 10.2 for women. Of all participants 2.7% reported impaired vision, 2.8% facial weakness, 2.8% articulation problems, 3.9% limb weakness, and 5% sensory disturbances. A total of 4.5% reported a physician-diagnosed stroke (women 4.3%; men 4.9%). Combining reported stroke history with reported impaired vision and/or articulation problems, the prevalence of stroke increased to 7.6% (men 8.4%; women 7.2%). Factors associated with higher prevalence were higher age, male gender, non-German nationality, lower education, positive family history of stroke, and living alone.


The combination of questions concerning a prior stroke and stroke symptoms is a useful and easy approach to assess prevalence. It results in prevalence numbers which might compensate for an underestimation of stroke numbers.

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