Background In Japan, stroke mortality and incidence started to decline during the 1960s. The recent unfavourably diverging trends in risk factors make it uncertain whether the decline will continue. Few comprehensive stroke registries of long research duration exist in Japan to illustrate the trends in stroke incidence.
Objective We examined 12-year stroke registration data to evaluate the current trend in a Japanese population.
Methods Data were obtained from the Takashima Stroke Registry, covering approximately 55 000 residents of Takashima County in central Japan. We calculated the age-adjusted stroke incidence rates (/100 000 person-years) and 95% confidence intervals for 1990–1992, 1993–1995, 1996–1998, and 1999–2001. We applied the direct method to adjust for the age distribution among the four periods. The incidence time trend was determined by calculating the average annual change across the study years using negative binomial regression analysis.
Results There were 1453 (men: 771 and women: 682) registered first-ever stroke cases during 1990–2001. The diagnosis was established by neuro-imaging in 93·6% of the cases. The average age was 69·4 years in men and 74·2 years in women. The age-adjusted incidence rates of stroke across the four observation periods were 143·1 (confidence interval: 127·4–158·8) in 1990–1992, 147·4 (confidence interval: 131·9–162·8) in 1993–1995, 120·4 (confidence interval: 106·7–134·0) in 1996–1998, and 122·9 (confidence interval: 109·6–136·2) in 1999–2001. The stroke incidence across the study years showed an insignificant time trend, with an average annual change of −0·33% (confidence interval: −2·44 to 1·78) per year. Similar trends were observed for both men and women and stroke subtypes.
Conclusions The previously reported declining trend in stroke incidence may have levelled off or slowed down considerably in the Japanese population.