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Death from Stroke While Hospitalized for Heart Attack

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concludes that the incidence of stroke as a complication of heart attack has decreased since the late 1990s, but death during hospitalization in affected patients has not shown a corresponding decrease.

This study looked at 9,220 patients hospitalized for heart attack between 1986 and 2005, and found that 132 patients (1.4 percent) suffered a first acute stroke during hospitalization.  The frequency of stroke increased through the 1990s, peaked in 1999, and declined slightly thereafter, the researchers found.

Age at least 75 years, female gender, a previous heart attack, and development of a serious irregular heart beat called atrial fibrillation during hospitalization were all associated with significantly increased odds of stroke. Having had a minimally invasive coronary intervention during hospitalization was associated with a lower risk of stroke.

The researchers also found that the likelihood of dying while hospitalized was significantly higher among patients who experienced an acute stroke compared to those who did not (34.1 percent versus 11.6 percent).   Further, patients with bleeding or "hemorrhagic" stroke were more likely to die while in the hospital than those with ischemic stroke - the kind that results from a blockage.

The researchers found that the risk of dying during hospitalization for heart attack in patients who suffer a stroke has not decreased in recent years.