Raffaele Ornello, MD

Wafa AH  Wolfe CDA, Emmett E, Roth GA, Johnson CO, and Wa Y. Burden of Stroke in Europe: Thirty-Year Projections of Incidence, Prevalence, Deaths, and Disability-Adjusted Life Years. Stroke. 2020;51:2418–2427.

Making projections about the future of stroke is important, due to the high burden of the disease in the general population and especially among the elderly. However, it is hard to provide accurate estimates due to the high number of variables to take account of.

In the present study, which used data from the Global Burden of Diseases 2017, the authors considered two variables, namely time and GDP per capita, to estimate variations in stroke incidence, prevalence, mortality, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost from 2017 to 2047 in 28 European countries. The authors’ statistical model predicted a slight increase (+3%) in stroke incidence, a striking 27% increase in stroke prevalence, fewer deaths (-17%) and DALYs lost (-33%).

The study findings show that the prevalence of stroke in Europe is expected to rise in the next three decades due to population aging and decreased mortality. Interestingly, the age-adjusted parameters are all expected to decrease over time, indicating that the increased stroke prevalence is due to the mere aging of the population.

The study is a clear and complete insight on the future of stroke in Europe that considers the main socioeconomic determinants of health in a conceptually simple fashion, even if with solid statistical methods. Despite the recent successes of stroke prevention, this study calls attention to the potential rise in stroke prevalence due to an epidemiological transition in Western countries.