A multinational comparison of subarachnoid hemorrhage epidemiology in the WHO MONICA stroke study

Timothy Ingall, Kjell Asplund, Markku Mähönen, Ruth Bonita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

310 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - By official, mostly unvalidated statistics, mortality from subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) show large variations between countries. Using uniform criteria for case ascertainment and diagnosis, a multinational comparison of attack rates and case fatality rates of SAH has been performed within the framework of the WHO MONICA Project. Methods - In 25- to 64-year-old men and women, a total of 3368 SAH events were recorded during 35.9 million person-years of observation in 11 populations in Europe and China. Strict MONICA criteria were used for case ascertainment and diagnosis of stroke subtype. Case fatality was based on follow-up at 28 days after onset. Results - Age-adjusted average annual SAH attack rates varied 10-fold among the 11 populations studied, from 2.0 (95% CI 1.6 to 2.4) per 100 000 population per year in China-Beijing to 22.5 (95% CI 20.9 to 24.1) per 100 000 population per year in Finland. No consistent pattern was observed in the sex ratio of attack rates in the different populations. The overall 28-day case fatality rate was 42%, with 2-fold differences in age- adjusted rates between populations but little difference between men and women. Case fatality rates were consistently higher in Eastern than in Western Europe. Conclusions - Using a uniform methodology, the WHO MONICA Project has shown very large variations in attack rates of SAH across 11 populations in Europe and China. The generally accepted view that women have a higher risk of SAH than men does not apply to all populations. Marked differences in outcome of SAH add to the wide gap in the burden of stroke between East and West Europe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1054-1061
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000


  • Epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • Mortality
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • World Health Organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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