Stroke in Canada is on the rise

Heart & Stroke funded research examines hospital and emergency department visits

A new study funded by Heart & Stroke reveals that annual stroke occurrence rates in Canada have increased to 108,707 – or roughly one every five minutes. This highlights the need for strong stroke care, treatment and recovery systems across the country as well as better prevention.

The analysis, based on hospital administrative data, estimated the number of stroke events resulting in hospital or emergency/urgent care department presentation across Canada in 2017–2018.

“Our study has allowed us to paint the most comprehensive picture of stroke hospital and emergency room visits in Canada,” says Dr. Jessalyn Holodinsky a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Calgary and lead author on the study. “We looked at hospital data from every province and we also did modelling to confirm the numbers and account for areas where was data is missing.” 

Age is a risk factor for stroke, and as a large proportion of the population ages the number of strokes has increased and will continue to increase. Stroke can happen at any age and more younger people are also having strokes.

“This new data will help inform health systems planning,” says Dr. Michael Hill, Senior Medical Director, Cardiovascular and Stroke SCN at Alberta Health Services and senior author of the study. “As stroke events continue to increase, emergency medical services and hospitals need to be ready to respond to ensure patients receive the right care in a timely way leading to the best outcomes.”

The acute stroke management module of the Heart & Stroke Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations (CSBPR), published today, contain important updates regarding stroke treatments, therapies and other aspects of care.

As more Canadians are surviving stroke the number of Canadians who are living with stroke has increased to 878,000. Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability; half of all people in Canada living with stroke need some help with daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, going to the washroom and getting around.

“Hospitals across the country provide excellent acute stroke care,” says Dr. Patrice Lindsay, Director, Health Systems, Heart & Stroke, and one of the authors of the study. “We need to improve access to rehabilitation and other services for people living with stroke and their caregivers, so they have the support they need for the best recovery possible. And we need a greater focus on prevention”

Heart & Stroke works with partners across the country to accelerate stroke advancements by funding research, raising awareness, driving change throughout stroke systems of care across the country, and advocating for improvements to health policy. 

About Heart & Stroke

Life. We don’t want you to miss it. That’s why Heart & Stroke has been leading the fight to beat stroke and heart disease for 70 years. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so Canadians don’t miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy. @HeartandStroke

Contact information

Alicia D’Aguiar (she/her)
Communications Advisor, Mission