Stroke remains the third most common cause of death and disability in industrialised countries (WHO, 2002). Estimates suggest that it accounts for 2‐4% of health care expenditure and also for significant costs outside of the health care system due
to its impact on disability (OECD, 2003a). In ischemic stroke, representing about 85% of cases, the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted, leading to a necrosis of the affected part. In hemorrhagic stroke, rupture of
a blood vessel causes bleeding into the brain, usually causing more widespread damage.