Strokes are the second most common cause of death in adults, and the mortality rate of stroke patients are at 11.9%. But, how does stroke cause death? According to a study conducted in 2013, the most common cause of death in stroke patients is due to infections, but there are other risk factors that could result in a person’s death during or after experiencing a stroke.
What Happens During a Stroke?
There are two main types of strokes to worry about. The first, and most common, type is the ischemic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain become blocked or narrowed. The lack of oxygen causes cell tissue to go into shock before, ultimately, dying and causing damage to the brain.
Ischemic strokes can also occur as a result of temporary blockages. These are called Transient Ischemic Strokes (TIAs), which are less harmful and are more often considered ‘mini-strokes.’ In either case, the damage done to the brain will need to be treated immediately to prevent complications.
The second type of stroke, the hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when the blood vessels in the brain are damaged in a way that causes a rupture. These ruptures can be quite devastating, as not only are the brain cells cut off from their supply of oxygen, the internal bleeding could compress the brain and cause even more damage.
In the case of hemorrhagic strokes, the mortality rate is far higher, with more than 60% of people dying within the year, whilst the survivors are often left to deal with severe disablement.
Cause of Death
The cause of death in people who suffer from a stroke differ depending on the type of stroke experienced, the type of damage done to the brain, how soon the stroke was treated, certain genetic factors, and more. The following is a list of risk factors that might increase the chances of death during or after a stroke:
- Age — People over the age of 50 are more likely to die as a result of stroke, if only because the elderly are predisposed with many of the other risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) for stroke.
- High Blood Pressure/High Cholesterol — High blood pressure and high cholesterol are known to increase the risk of arterial disease.
- Smoking — Smoking has been linked to the buildup of plaque in the arteries that can cause it to become narrowed or blocked.
- Heart Diseases — Heart Diseases can interrupt the flow of blood from getting to the brain.
- Sickle Cell Anemia — Sickle Cell Anemia is a blood disorder that can cause blood clots to form and block off the supply of blood to the brain.
- Diabetes — Much like with age, diabetes is linked to other risk factors that can cause arterial disease.
- Obesity — People who are overweight tend to suffer from many of the other known risk factors.
Final Thoughts: How Does Stroke Cause Death?
In most cases, recovery from a stroke is always possible. With some, that will mean dealing with long-term disability and other health complications, but there are treatment plans available for dealing with many of the effects of a stroke. It all depends on how soon you can get that treatment.
- Machado, Michel Ferreira, et al. “Infectious Disease Is the Most Common Cause of Death among Stroke Patients: Two-Years of Follow-Up.” Arquivos De Neuro-Psiquiatria, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23828522.
- Brønnum-Hansen, Henrik, et al. “Long-Term Survival and Causes of Death After Stroke.” Stroke, vol. 32, no. 9, 2001, pp. 2131–2136., doi:10.1161/hs0901.094253.