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Nicklas Vinter

Death of a Partner and Risks of Ischemic Stroke and Intracerebral Hemorrhage: A Nationwide Danish Matched Cohort Study

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Background Stress has been reported to trigger stroke, and the death of a loved one is a potentially extremely stressful experience. Yet, previous studies have yielded conflicting findings of whether bereavement is associated with stroke risk, possibly because of insufficient distinction between ischemic stroke (IS) and intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). We therefore examined the associations between bereavement and IS and ICH separately in contemporary care settings using nationwide high-quality register resources. Methods and Results The study cohort included all Danish individuals whose partner died between 2002 and 2016 and a reference group of cohabiting individuals matched 1:2 on sex, age, and calendar time. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) and corresponding 95% CIs during up to 5 years follow-up. During the study period, 278 758 individuals experienced partner bereavement, of whom 7684 had an IS within the subsequent 5 years (aHR, 1.11; CI, 1.08-1.14 when compared with nonbereaved referents) and 1139 experienced an ICH (aHR, 1.13; CI, 1.04-1.23). For ICH, the estimated association tended to be stronger within the initial 30 days after partner death (aHR, 1.66; CI, 1.06-2.61), especially in women (aHR, 1.99; CI, 1.06-3.75), but the statistical precision was low. In absolute numbers, the cumulative incidence of IS at 30 days was 0.73 per 1000 in bereaved individuals versus 0.63 in their referents, and the corresponding figures for ICH were 0.13 versus 0.08. Conclusions Statistically significant positive associations with partner bereavement were documented for both IS and ICH risk, for ICH particularly in the short term. However, absolute risk differences were small.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere018763
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

    Research areas

  • bereavement, brain infarction, cerebral hemorrhage, loss of a partner, stroke

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