Trends in validated cases of fatal and nonfatal stroke, stroke classification, and risk factors in southeastern New England, 1980 to 1991: Data from the Pawtucket Heart Health program

Carol A. Derby, Kate L. Lapane, Henry A. Feldman, Richard A. Carleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - Recent US data suggest there is a slowing of the decline in stroke mortality rates, accompanied by a constant morbidity rate. Hospital discharge rates for patients with stroke are influenced by numerous factors, and community-based surveillance data for validated cases are rare. Thus, reasons for the observed trends remain unclear. In the present study, we examined trends in validated cases of stroke for 1980 to 1991 in the combined populations of the Pawtucket Heart Health Program study communities and examined concomitant trends in classification, use of diagnostic procedures, and levels of risk factors. Methods - Discharges for residents aged 35 to 74 years with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes 431, 432, and 434 to 437 were identified through retrospective surveillance. A physician reviewed the medical records to validate case status. Results - Between 1980 and 1991, 2269 discharges were confirmed as representing definite or probable strokes (59.5% of 3811 cases reviewed). The fatal stroke rate declined (P<0.005) and the nonfatal stroke rate remained constant in both sexes. Case-fatality rates declined significantly (P=0.003), and among strokes, the relative odds of death in 1990 versus 1980 was 0.50 (95% CI 0.34 to 0.72). The proportion of stroke discharges in which the patient received a CT scan or MRI increased 120%, and fewer strokes were classified as ill defined. Hypertension prevalence, treatment, and control rates remained constant in these populations. Conclusions - Although causes for the observed trends remain unclear, results suggest that the decline in mortality rates is due to improved survival rates for patients with stroke. However, constant morbidity rates combined with constant rates of hypertension highlight the need for improved prevention to reduce the impact of stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-881
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes



  • Cerebrovascular disorders
  • Epidemiology
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing

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