Facts & Figures

This is a quick reference guide to:

  • recognising stroke, and
  • understanding why stroke is a serious medical event.

However, the great news is that 90% of strokes are preventable!

Reduce your risk of stroke by following the suggestions outlined in the box below.

Stroke is a serious health issue and a medical emergency


You can reduce your risk of stroke by:

  • having regular blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol tests, to check whether your levels are normal.
  • If they are high your doctor or nurse may suggest ways of reducing them
  • having regular checks on the health of your heart. If it is abnormal your doctor may suggest treatment
  • stopping smoking.


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What causes stroke?

Stroke is caused by a blockage of blood supply to, or a bleed within, the brain.

How to recognise stroke and transient ischemic attack

  • Many people are not aware of the symptoms of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and often do not go to hospital if either of these events happen.
  • Symptoms of stroke are sudden. Common ones include:
    • numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
    • vision problems
    • loss of coordination
    • confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
    • severe headache.
  • Symptoms of a TIA are similar to stroke, but last only minutes or hours. Only a doctor can tell the difference between a TIA and a stroke. Do not wait to see if it goes away. If someone has the symptoms, phone for emergency medical help immediately.

What to do if stroke happens

  • Stroke is a medical emergency. If someone has a stroke, phone for emergency medical assistance urgently.
  • Even though the symptoms of a TIA are short-lasting and may not seem severe, a TIA is a medical emergency. Seek medical assistance urgently. Do not wait to see if ‘it goes away’.

Why is stroke a major health issue?

  • There are over 13.7 million new strokes each year*. Globally, one in four people over age 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime.**
  • Almost 60% of all strokes each year are in people under the age of 70 years.
  • 8% of all strokes each year are in people younger than 44 years.
  • 52% of all strokes each year occur in men.
  • 48% of all strokes each year occur in women. (Source: Global Stroke Fact Sheet, World Stroke Organization)* V. Feigin et al. Global, regional, and national burden of stroke, 1990 to 2016: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease study 2016. The Lancet Neurology, 2019, forthcoming
    ** V. Feigin et al. Global, Regional, and Country-Specific Lifetime Risks of Stroke, 1990 and 2016. New Engl J Med 2018;379:2429-2437

Risk factors for stroke

  • The main cause of stroke is high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke by 4-6 times
  • Several factors have been directly linked to an increased risk of stroke, including those listed below

Direct risk factor for stroke

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • High blood cholesterol

Which direct stroke risk factors are in your life? Banish them!