STUDY OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of stroke survivors in a health district population aged 55 years and over. DESIGN: This was a point prevalence study using two-stage postal questionnaires sent to an age stratified random sample of the population. SETTING: A district health authority in northern England with a resident population of 723,000. SUBJECTS: Altogether 18,827 residents aged 55 years or over. MAIN RESULTS: Prevalence was found to increase with age and, apart from the very elderly, males had a higher prevalence than females. Overall prevalence was found to be 46.8/1,000 (95% CI 42.5, 51.6). 23% of respondents reported full recovery from stroke. Cognitive impairments (33%), problems with lower limbs (33% for right leg; 27% for left leg) and speech difficulties (27%) were the most common residual impairments. CONCLUSIONS: Current guidelines to purchasers on the provision of services to those who have had a stroke may under-estimate prevalence rates by as much as 50%. This could lead to a shortfall in provision of services designed to support people in the months and years following their stroke.
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