About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides an annual update on cerebrovascular disease in Scotland, including stroke, brain haemorrhage and ‘mini-stroke’. This publication includes information on hospital activity, operations, incidence, 30-day survival following first emergency admission, GP prescribing, mortality and ambulance service activity.

Main points

  • The incidence rate for cerebrovascular disease decreased over the last decade by 10%. Incidence rates were consistently 20% higher in males than females.
  • There were 3,754 deaths in Scotland in 2019 where cerebrovascular disease, including stroke, was the underlying cause. In the last decade, the death rate for cerebrovascular disease decreased by 35%.
Image caption Cerebrovascular disease – age and sex adjusted mortality rates per 100,000 population, Scotland, 2010 to 2019
Trends in mortality rates for cerebrovascular disease over the last ten years
  • The death rate for cerebrovascular disease in the most deprived areas was 46% higher than in the least deprived areas in 2019.
  • The percentage of people surviving 30 days or more following their first emergency admission to hospital with a stroke improved slightly over the last ten years from 83% in 2010/11 to 85% in 2019/20.
  • The number of patients receiving prescriptions for drugs to treat diseases of the circulation increased by 13% in the last ten years. Despite this increase, the cost of prescriptions dispensed for these drugs has fallen by 11% over the last ten years to £143.7 million in 2019/20, reflecting falls in drug prices for these conditions.


Cerebrovascular disease develops as a result of problems with the blood vessels supplying oxygen rich blood to the brain. Scotland has a high prevalence of the risk factors associated with cerebrovascular disease such as smoking and high blood pressure. Despite a substantial decrease in rates of death over the last decade, treating and preventing stroke is a national clinical priority for Scotland as outlined in the Stroke Improvement Plan (external website).

Further information

Public Health Scotland publishes a range of heart disease-related information. You can find all our information on the stroke section of the Data and Intelligence website (external website). More information is also available from the Scottish Stroke Care Audit (external website). Further information can be found in the Stroke Statistics report.

Corresponding information on heart disease can be found on the heart disease section of the Data and Intelligence website (external website).

The next release of this publication will be in January 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.hdstroke@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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