Stroke in Canada

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by a sudden brain blood vessel blockage (ischemic stroke) or rupture (hemorrhagic stroke). Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke.

Stroke can happen at any age, so know the signs and know what it looks like.

Who is affected?

  • About 878,500 Canadian adults aged 20+ have experienced a stroke, that is 438,700 men and 439,800 women (according to national data from 2017–18Footnote 1)
  • One-quarter of Canadians living with stroke are under age 65
  • Stroke risk rises rapidly after age 55 

What are the risks?

  • High blood pressure is the strongest risk factor for a stroke
  • Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, atrial fibrillation (afib), a sedentary lifestyle and diet low in fruits and vegetables

How to reduce the risks?

  • Keep blood pressure under control
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be physically active
  • Quit smoking

Every minute counts in a stroke emergency!

Survival and full recovery are possible if one acts… FAST

39% of Canadians did not know any FAST signs of strokeFootnote 2

Learn the signs of a stroke 

  • FACE - is it drooping?
  • ARMS - can you raise both?
  • SPEECH - is it slurred or jumbled?
  • TIME - to call 9-1-1 right away.

Act FAST. Lifesaving treatment begins the second you call 9-1-1

© Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 2022|™ The heart and/Icon on its own and the heart and/Icon followed by another icon or words are trademarks of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Learn more about stroke

To learn more about stroke, VISIT Stroke in Canada

GET DATA Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System

CONSULT Heart and Stroke Foundation and Stroke Care


Footnote 1

Public Health Agency of Canada, using Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System data files contributed by provinces and territories, as of February 2021 (data up to 2017–2018). Data from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories were not available for 2017–2018.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

The Heart and Stroke Foundation Signs of Stroke poll was conducted by Environics Research Group. A total of 3,900 Canadians age 18 years and over were surveyed by telephone in December 2021. A survey of this magnitude yields results that are accurate to within plus or minus 1.8 points, 19 times out of 20.

Return to footnote 2 referrer


This work was made possible through collaboration between the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and all Canadian provincial and territorial governments, and expert contribution from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System Stroke Working Group, and members of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Stroke Quality Advisory Committee. This infographic was developed by PHAC; no endorsement by the provinces and territories should be inferred.

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