With 16.9 million people who suffered a first-ever stroke in 2010 worldwide, stroke is a very common vascular disease. Epidemiologic studies have played an essential role in assessing this burden and in detecting the risk factors for stroke. Primary prevention of these risk factors, primarily hypertension, smoking, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation, has reduced the incidence in high-income countries. However, stroke remains a major cause of death and disability, and therefore research should be continued. Subarachnoid hemorrhages are less prevalent than strokes but have an even higher risk of death. Similar to stroke, epidemiologic studies identified smoking and hypertension as its most important risk factors, together with excessive alcohol intake. Although rare, arterial dissections, CADASIL, arteriovenous malformations, venous sinus thrombosis, moyamoya disease, and vasculitis can lead to serious symptoms. The burden and risk factors of those rare diseases are more challenging to assess. Whenever possible, they should be recognized in a timely manner for their increased risk of stroke, but most often they are diagnosed only at the time of stroke. Some cerebrovascular abnormalities do not result in immediate symptoms. This subclinical cerebrovascular disease includes silent infarcts, white-matter lesions, and microbleeds, and is incidentally found by neuroimaging. These lesions are not innocent, as several epidemiologic studies have associated subclinical cerebrovascular disease with an increased risk of stroke, cognitive decline, dementia, and death.

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doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-802973-2.00014-8, hdl.handle.net/1765/94583
Department of Epidemiology

Portegies, M., Koudstaal, P., & Ikram, A. (2016). Cerebrovascular disease. In Neuroepidemiology / Edited by Michael J. Aminoff, François Boller and Dick F. Swaab (Handbook of Clinical Neurology; volume 138) (pp. 239–261). doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-802973-2.00014-8