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Acta Med Scand. 1987;222(5):401-8.

Autopsy-verified causes of death after stroke.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of UmeƄ, Sweden.


In a population-based sample of 409 stroke patients, autopsy was performed in 82 of the 95 patients who died during the first three months and in 61 of the 128 patients dying thereafter. The dominant causes of death, as verified by autopsy, were cerebrovascular disease in the first week (90%), pulmonary embolism in the second to fourth week (30%), bronchopneumonia during the second and third months (27%) and cardiac disease, mainly myocardial infarction, later than three months after the stroke (37%). Death was attributed to causes other than the brain lesion in 59% of the patients with ischemic and in 24% of the patients with hemorrhagic stroke (p less than 0.01). Age and sex had little influence on the distribution of causes of death. Fatal pulmonary embolism and bronchopneumonia surprisingly often occurred in ambulatory patients. An intracardiac thrombus was present in 20% of deceased patients with atrial fibrillation, and in 17% of cases with a history of myocardial infarction. When attempts are made to reduce mortality (and morbidity) after stroke, there would seem to be a considerable potential for prevention and early treatment of complications, such as pulmonary embolism, bronchopneumonia and cardiac disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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