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Importance: Overall stroke incidence is falling in high-income countries, but data on time trends in incidence of young stroke (ie, stroke in individuals younger than 55 years) are conflicting. An age-specific divergence in incidence, with less favorable trends at younger vs older ages, might be a more consistent underlying finding across studies. Objective: To compare temporal trends in incidence of stroke at younger vs older ages in high-income countries. Data Sources: PubMed and EMBASE were searched from inception to February 2022. One additional population-based study (Oxford Vascular Study) was also included. Study Selection: Studies reporting age-specific stroke incidence in high-income countries at more than 1 time point. Data Extraction and Synthesis: For all retrieved studies, 2 authors independently reviewed the full text against the inclusion criteria to establish their eligibility. Meta-analysis was performed with the inverse variance-weighted random-effects model. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) reporting guideline was followed. Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcome was age-specific divergence (<55 vs ≥55 years) in temporal trends in stroke incidence (relative temporal rate ratio [RTTR]) in studies extending to at least 2000. RTTRs were calculated for each study and pooled by random-effects meta-analysis, with stratification by administrative vs prospective population-based methodology, sex, stroke subtype (ischemic vs intracerebral hemorrhage vs subarachnoid hemorrhage) and geographical region. Results: Among 50 studies in 20 countries, 26 (13 prospective population-based and 13 administrative studies) reported data allowing calculation of the RTTR for stroke incidence at younger vs older ages across 2 or more periods, the latest extending beyond 2000. Reported trends in absolute incidence of young individuals with stroke were heterogeneous, but all studies showed a less favorable trend in incidence at younger vs older ages (pooled RTTR = 1.57 [95% CI, 1.42-1.74]). The overall RTTR was consistent by stroke subtype (ischemic, 1.62 [95% CI, 1.44-1.83]; intracerebral hemorrhage, 1.32 [95% CI, 0.91-1.92]; subarachnoid hemorrhage, 1.54 [95% CI, 1.00-2.35]); and by sex (men, 1.46 [95% CI, 1.34-1.60]; women, 1.41 [95% CI, 1.28-1.55]) but was greater in studies reporting trends solely after 2000 (1.51 [95% CI, 1.30-1.70]) vs solely before (1.18 [95% CI, 1.12-1.24]) and was highest in population-based studies in which the most recent reported period of ascertainment started after 2010 (1.87 [95% CI, 1.55-2.27]). Conclusions and Relevance: Temporal trends in stroke incidence are diverging by age in high-income countries, with less favorable trends at younger vs older ages, highlighting the urgent need to better understand etiology and prevention of stroke at younger ages.

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Neurol

Publication Date





1036 - 1048


Aged, Cerebral Hemorrhage, Female, Humans, Incidence, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Stroke, Subarachnoid Hemorrhage