Long-Term Survival and Causes of Death After Stroke
Background and Purpose— As part of the Danish contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO) MONICA (Monitoring Trends and Determinants in Cardiovascular Disease) Project, a register of patients with stroke was established in 1982. The purpose of the present study was to analyze long-term survival and causes of death after a first stroke and to compare them with those of the background population.
Methods— The study population comprised all subjects aged 25 years or older who were resident in a geographically defined region in Copenhagen County. All stroke events in the study population during 1982–1991 were ascertained and validated according to standardized criteria outlined for the WHO MONICA Project. After completion of the stroke registry at the end of 1991, all patients were followed up by record linkage to official registries. Standardized mortality ratios were calculated for various causes of death and periods after the stroke.
Results— The estimated cumulative risks for death at 28 days, 1 year, and 5 years after onset were 28%, 41%, and 60%, respectively. Compared with the general population, nonfatal stroke was associated with an almost 5-fold increase in risk for death between 4 weeks and 1 year after a first stroke and a 2-fold increase in the risk for death subsequent to 1 year. The excess mortality rate in stroke patients was due mainly to cardiovascular diseases but also to cancer, other diseases, accidents, and suicide. The probability for long-term survival improved significantly during the observation period for patients with ischemic or ill-defined stroke.
Conclusions— Stroke is a medical emergency associated with a very high risk for death in the acute and subacute phases and with a continuous excess risk of death. Better prevention and management of strokes may improve the long-term survival rate.
- Received February 2, 2001.
- Revision received May 18, 2001.
- Accepted May 18, 2001.