1.4 Prevalence – how many people are living with the consequences of stroke?

Stroke prevalence rates describe the number of people in a society with potential rehabilitation and secondary prevention needs due to their stroke. Prevalence studies are relatively rare compared to incidence studies and rely on door-to-door surveys or survey questionnaires with widely varying cooperation rates. Table 4 lists prevalence studies in Europe published since 2000.

Table  4: European prevalence studies




Study period


Method of case ascertainment


Stroke prevalence estimate

Croatia[58] 2005 Door-to-door survey 2.0%
Finland[54] 2008 National stroke database 1.5%
Germany[59] 2001 Population survey questionnaire 4.5% (aged ≥50 years)
Italy[60] 2004 Questionnaire & medical records 1.5%
Italy[61] 2001 Door-to-door survey 8.2% ♂, 5.1% ♀

(aged ≥65 years)

Netherlands[62] 2000 GP data 0.8%

(estimate: 0.9% in 2020)

Slovenia[63] 2001 National survey 0.9% (aged 25-64 years)
Spain / Madrid[64] 1994 Screening questionnaire & neurological assessment 3.4%
Spain[65] 1991-


Door-to-door survey 6.4% (aged ≥70 years)
Sweden[66] Not clear Hospital data & self- reports 18.8% (aged ≥85 years)
UK[67] 1995-


GP data 0.9%

Together with an ageing population and improving survival rates[68-72] the number of stroke survivors in Europe is rising[62]. This represents an increasing challenge for those trying to meet long term needs of stroke survivors, impacting on health and social care providers and their funders, as well as on families and other informal care givers.