Remarkable Decline in Ischemic Stroke Mortality is Not Matched by Changes in Incidence

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Background and Purpose—In Western Europe, mortality from ischemic stroke (IS) has declined over several decades. Age–sex-specific IS mortality, IS incidence, 30-day case fatality, and 1-year mortality after hospital admission are essential for explaining recent trends in IS mortality in the new millennium.Methods—Data for all IS deaths (1980–2010) in the Netherlands were grouped by year, sex, and age. A joinpoint regression was fitted to detect points in time at which significant changes in the trends occur. By linking nationwide registers, a cohort of patients first admitted for IS between 1997 and 2005 was constructed and age–sex-specific 30-day case fatality and 1-year mortality were computed. IS incidence (admitted IS patients and out-of-hospital IS deaths) was computed by age and sex. Mann–Kendall tests were used for trend evaluation.Results—IS mortality declined continuously between1980 and 2000 with an attenuation of decline in the 1990s in some of the age–sex groups. A remarkable decline in IS mortality after 2000 was observed in all age–sex groups, except for young men. An improved decline in 30-day case fatality and in 1-year mortality was also observed in almost all age–sex groups. In contrast, IS incidence remained stable between 1997 and 2005 or even increased slightly.Conclusions—The recent remarkable decline in IS mortality was not matched by a decline in the number of incident nonfatal IS events. This is worrying, because IS is already a leading cause of adult disability, claiming a heavy human and economic burden. Prevention of IS is therefore now of the greatest importance.

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