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Stroke

More People Die from Stroke than Statistics Show

21 years, 2 months ago

9031  0
Posted on Dec 04, 2002, 1 a.m. By Bill Freeman

While deaths from heart disease have soared over the last century, statistics suggest that the number of people who die from stroke has barely increased at all - a fact that has always puzzled scientists. However, according to researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK the real reason behind the discrepancy in death rates between heart disease and stroke is that strokes are regularly inaccurately noted in autopsy notes.

While deaths from heart disease have soared over the last century, statistics suggest that the number of people who die from stroke has barely increased at all - a fact that has always puzzled scientists. However, according to researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK the real reason behind the discrepancy in death rates between heart disease and stroke is that strokes are regularly inaccurately noted in autopsy notes. Dr Debbie A Lawlor and colleagues examined autopsy records carried out between 1932 and 1999. Their results showed that deaths from cerebral hemorrhage - a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain - rose steadily throughout the 20th century. However, deaths caused by cerebral infarction - a type of stroke associated with heart disease - peaked in the 70's and then dropped. Statistics for stroke mortality often present stroke as one category (total stroke), event though there are several different types. Another problem is that the type of stroke is often inaccurately reported in mortality records. In an attempt to overcome such problems Lawlor sifted through the data and only calculated a mortality rate for deaths caused by cerebral infarct. They then compared their mortality rate to that caused by heart disease the results were very similar. Leading the authors to conclude: "These results resolve the paradoxical discordance between the epidemiology of stroke and that of coronary heart disease."

SOURCE/REFERENCE: The Lancet online November 12th 2002

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