Immediate causes of death of demented and non-demented elderly
Objective – To investigate the immediate causes of death, in autopsied demented and non-demented elderly. Design – Retrospective clinicopathologic correlations. Setting – Acute and intermediate care geriatric hospital. Participants – 342 hospitalized demented and non-demented elderly (mean age 84.94±6.9 years) who underwent consecutive post-mortem examinations: 120 demented patients with either vascular dementia (VaD, n=34), mixed dementia (MD, n=65) or Alzheimer's disease (AD, n=21) neuropathologically confirmed and 222 non-demented elderly. Results – Primary causes of death were similar in both demented and non-demented patients; the commonest were cardiovascular disease and bronchopneumonia. Cardiac causes of death and especially cardiac failure were more frequent in VaD than in AD or MD (respectively P=0.027 and 0.005). Dementia was an underlying but never a primary cause of death. Conclusions – Immediate causes of death are similar in elderly demented and non-demented patients.