Fatal stroke after the death of a sibling: a nationwide follow-up study from Sweden.

PLoS ONE. 2013;8(2):e56994 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0056994

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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AUTHORS

Mikael Rostila
Jan Saarela
Ichiro Kawachi

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

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Editorial Board

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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

BACKGROUND: Although less studied than other types of familial losses, the loss of a sibling could be a potential trigger of stroke as it represents a stressful life event. We studied the association between loss of a sibling and fatal stroke up to 18 years since bereavement. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We conducted a follow-up study between 1981 and 2002, based on register data covering the total population of Swedes aged 40-69 years (nā€Š=ā€Š1,617,010). An increased risk of fatal stroke (1.31 CI: 1.05, 1.62) was found among women who had experienced the loss of a sibling. No increase in the overall mortality risk was found in men (1.11 CI: 0.92, 1.33). An elevated risk in the short term (during the second and third half-year after the death) was found among both men and women, whereas longer-term elevation in risk was found primarily for women. Both external (1.47 CI: 1.00, 2.17) and not external (1.26 CI: 1.00, 1.60) causes of sibling death showed associations among women. In men, an association was found only if the sibling also died from stroke (1.78 CI: 1.00, 3.17). However, among women, we found an increased risk of stroke mortality if the sibling died from causes other than stroke (1.30 CI: 1.04, 1.62). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The findings suggest an increased risk of dying from stroke mortality after the death of a sibling, and that bereavement affects particularly women. It is important for health care workers to follow bereaved siblings and recognize potential changes of stress-levels and health related behaviours that could lead to risk of stroke.