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Stroke. 1994 Nov;25(11):2146-8.

Gastrointestinal bleeding in stroke.

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Department of Neurology, Saint Marys Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. 55905.



Patients with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke are at risk for systemic complications. The reasons why gastrointestinal bleeding occurs after stroke are unknown and have intuitively been attributed to stress ulcers. No study to date has addressed causes of gastrointestinal hemorrhage in stroke.


Between 1976 and 1994, 17 patients identified from the Mayo Clinic medical record system as having gastrointestinal hemorrhage and ischemic stroke (n = 14) or intracerebral hemorrhage (n = 3) were reviewed for presentation, associated causes, and outcome. Results of the endoscopic procedures were compiled, and available gastric biopsies were reviewed.


In 17 patients with gastrointestinal bleeding after stroke, sudden hematemesis, a decrease in hemoglobin level, or orthostatic hypotension was found as a presenting feature. One patient presented with massive hematemesis, exsanguination, and cardiac arrest. Endoscopic findings were available in 14 patients and included gastroesophageal erosions, hemorrhagic gastritis, and gastric ulcer. In one patient, an adenocarcinoma of the gastric cardia was found. Putative pathogenetic agents were found in 16 of 17 patients and included a long history of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (n = 6), acetylsalicylic acid (n = 3), grossly prolonged anticoagulation (n = 4), Helicobacter pylori (n = 2), and corticosteroids (n = 1).


Gastrointestinal bleeding after stroke is rarely severe and may not contribute significantly to mortality. Medication-induced gastrointestinal hemorrhage may be underappreciated in this setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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