Background: Population-based data, which continuously monitors time trends in stroke epidemiology are limited. We investigated the incidence of pathological and etiological stroke subtypes over a 16 year time period. Methods: Data were collected within the Erlangen Stroke Project (ESPro), a prospective, population-based stroke register in Germany covering a total study population of 105,164 inhabitants (2010). Etiology of ischemic stroke was classified according to the Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment (TOAST) criteria. Results: Between January 1995 and December 2010, 3,243 patients with first-ever stroke were documented. The median age was 75 and 55% were females. The total stroke incidence decreased over the 16 year study period in men (Incidence Rate Ratio 1995-1996 vs. 2009-2010 (IRR) 0.78; 95% CI 0.58-0.90) but not in women. Among stroke subtypes, a decrease in ischemic stroke incidence (IRR 0.73; 95% CI 0.57-0.93) and of large artery atherosclerotic stroke (IRR 0.27; 95% CI 0.12-0.59) was found in men and an increase of stroke due to small artery occlusion in women (IRR 2.33; 95% CI 1.39-3.90). Conclusions: Variations in time trends of pathological and etiological stroke subtypes were found between men and women that might be linked to gender differences in the development of major vascular risk factors in the study population.

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