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List of Heart & Stroke Related Causes of Death

Thoracic Aneurism

An aneurism of the thoracic aorta.

Example from an 1884 death certificate from Illinois:

Angina Pectoris

Breast pang; spasm of the chest. [Hoblyn1855]

A disease attended by acute pain, sense of suffocation, and syncope. [Thomas1875]

Chest pain that is typically severe and crushing with a feeling just behind the breastbone (the sternum) of pressure and suffocation, due to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart muscle. The term "angina pectoris" comes from the Latin "angere" meaning "to choke or throttle" + "pectus" meaning "chest". Angina pectoris was first described by the English physician William Heberden (1710-1801) and may be referred to simply as angina. [Medicinenet].

Example from an 1828 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Aortic Stenosis

Abnormal narrowing of the aorta, esp. of its orifice, usually as a result of rheumatic fever or embryologic anomalies. [].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:


Relating to apoplexy; affected with, inclined to, or symptomatic of, apoplexy; as, an apoplectic person, medicine, habit or temperament, symptom, fit, or stroke. [Webster]

Apoplectic Stroke

An apoplectic seizure. [Dunglison 1846].

Cerebral Apoplexy.

A disease produced by congestion or rupture of the vessels of the brain, and causing a sudden arrest of sense and motion, the person lying as if asleep, respiration and the heart's action continuing. [Thomas1875]
Sudden impairment of neurological function, especially from a cerebral hemorrhage; a stroke. An effusion of blood into a tissue or organ. Archaic term for cerebral stroke [Heritage]
The word "apoplexy" comes from the Greek "apoplexia" meaning a seizure, in the sense of being struck down. In Greek "plexe" is "a stroke." The ancients believed that someone suffering a stroke (or any sudden incapacity) had been struck down by the gods. [Medicinenet]

"apoplexy" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1380. [Webster]


Example from a 1734 London, England Death Record:

Example from a 1909 New York State Death Certificate:

Example from a 1945 Kentucky Death Certificate:

Arterio Capillary Fibrosis


Example from an 1885 death certificate from Illinois:


Induration of the walls of an artery, or of the arteries, especially in the musculoelastic coat. [Appleton1904].

A chronic disease in which thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of the arterial walls result in impaired blood circulation. It develops with aging, and in hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and other conditions. [Heritage].

Example from a 1925 Death Certificate from Louisiana:


A form of arteriosclerosis characterized by the deposition of atheromatous plaques containing cholesterol and lipids on the innermost layer of the walls of large and medium-sized arteries. [Heritage].

Atheroma: A disease characterized by thickening and fatty degeneration of the inner coat of the arteries. [Webster]

Atrial Fibrillation

Fibrillation of the muscles of the atria of the heart. [Wordnet].

Auricular Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation.

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Blue Baby

A popular term for a child born with cyanosis. [Appleton1904].

An infant born with cyanosis as a result of a congenital cardiac or pulmonary defect that causes inadequate oxygenation of the blood. [Heritage].

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Cardiac Asthma

The term "cardiac asthma" refers to wheezing associated with congestive heart failure. It isn't true asthma. As a result of congestive heart failure, fluid can build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). This causes signs and symptoms — such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing — that may mimic asthma. True asthma is a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airways, which can lead to breathing difficulties. [].

Cardiac Dropsy

Dropsy, dependent on disease of the heart. [Dunglison1868]

Œdema due to heart failure. [CancerWEB].

Example from a 1916 death certificate from Minnesota:

Cardiac Insufficiency

Inadequate blood flow to the heart muscles; can cause angina pectoris (syn: coronary insufficiency) [Wordnet].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Cardiac Rheumatism

Rheumatic cardiac valvular disease, most often of the mitral and aortic valves. [CancerWEB].

Example from an 1886 death certificate from Illinois:


Gout or pain of the heart. [Dunglison1868]


Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle or a change in heart muscle structure. It is often associated with inadequate heart pumping or other heart function problems. [Medline Plus].

Cardio Renal Disease

The clinician encounters many cases, mainly in persons of middle age or older, in which evidences of cardiac weakness and other circulatory disturbances, such as high pressure, are associated with signs of failure of renal function or urinary indications of renal disease. When this combination of symptoms is of such character that the observer cannot readily assign to either the cardiovascular system or to the kidneys the preponderance of responsibility, the term "cardio-renal disease" is often employed. The term, therefore, comprises cases of combined cardiovascular and renal disease without such manifest predominance of either as to justify a prompt determination of the one element as primary and important and the other as secondary and unimportant. [Cardiorenal Disease, Stengel, 1914].

Example from a 1915 Death Certificate from Massachusetts:


A condition in which the heart is unduly movable and displaced downward. [CancerWEB]


Inflammation of the heart, especially of its muscular tissue. [Appleton1904].

Cerebral Apoplexy

Stroke syndrome affecting the cerebrum. [Dorland].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Cerebral Embolism

Embolism or thrombosis occurring in a cerebral vessel often leading to cerebral infarction. [CancerWEB]

Cerebral Thrombosis

Formation of a clot or other blockage in one of the blood vessels of the brain, often followed by neurologic damage; a type of stroke. []

Congenital Heart Defect

Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart present at birth. They result when a mishap occurs during heart development soon after conception and often before the mother is aware that she is pregnant. Defects range in severity from simple problems, such as "holes" between chambers of the heart, to very severe malformations, such as complete absence of one or more chambers or valves. [American Heart Association].

Example from a 1926 death certificate from New Brunswick, Canada:

Congestion of the Heart

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure

Inability to pump enough blood to avoid congestion in the tissues. [Wordnet].

Coronary Occlusion

The partial or complete obstruction of blood flow in a coronary artery, as by a thrombus or the progressive buildup of atherosclerotic plaque. [American Heritage].

Example from a 1969 death certificate from North Carolina:


A disease in which the surface of the body is colored blue. It is often symptomatic, and commonly depends on a direct communication remaining between the cavities of the right and left side of the heart. [Dunglison1868]


A blue color of the skin, resulting from congenital malformation of the heart, by which venous and arterial blood are mixed so as to be not wholly oxygenated; the morbus cœruleus. [Thomas1875]

A bluish color of the skin and the mucous membranes due to insufficient oxygen in the blood. For example, the lips may show cyanosis. Cyanosis can be evident at birth, as in a "blue baby" who has a heart malformation that permits blood that is not fully oxygenated to enter the arterial circulation. Cyanosis can also appear at any time later in life. The word "cyanosis" comes from the Greek "cyanos" meaning dark blue. [Medicinenet]

Example from an 1893 death certificate from West Virginia:

Disease of the valves

Endocarditis, valvulitis.

Example from an 1871 Death Register in New Zealand:

Drop Heart


Dropsy of the Heart

Hydropericardium. [Appleton1904].

Oedema due to heart failure; Congestive Heart Failure. [CancerWEB].

Example from a 1915 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Dropsy of the Pericardium

Hydropericardium. [Dunglison1846]


Inflammation of the endocardium and heart valves. [Wordnet].

(Entry from an 1849 Church Record in Münster, Switzerland)



Example from a 1912 death certificate from Michigan:


A disordered rhythm of the heart. [Dorland].

Hardening of Arteries

The condition of arteriosclerosis. [American Heritage].

Heart Attack

A heart attack (also known as a myocardial infarction) is the death of heart muscle from the sudden blockage of a coronary artery by a blood clot. Coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen. Blockage of a coronary artery deprives the heart muscle of blood and oxygen, causing injury to the heart muscle. Injury to the heart muscle causes chest pain and pressure. If blood flow is not restored within 20 to 40 minutes, irreversible death of the heart muscle will begin to occur. Muscle continues to die for 6-8 hours at which time the heart attack usually is "complete." The dead heart muscle is replaced by scar tissue. [Medicinenet]

Example from a 1930 Death Certificate from Ohio:

Heart Disease

A structural or functional abnormality of the heart, or of the blood vessels supplying the heart, that impairs its normal functioning. [Heritage].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Heart Failure

A condition where there is ineffective pumping of the heart leading to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Typical symptoms include shortness of breath with exertion, difficulty breathing when lying flat and leg or ankle swelling. Causes include chronic hypertension, cardiomyopathy and myocardial infarction. [CancerWEB].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Heart Spasm

Angina Pectoris


This is not a common disease. Palpitations; irregular or intermitting pulse; excessive dyspnea, amounting often to orthopnea, and dullness over a large space on percussion, will cause the pericardium to be suspected. [Dunglison1868].

The noninflammatory accumulation of watery fluid in the pericardial cavity. [American Heritage].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:


Hydropericardium. [Dunglison1868].

Pericarditis accompanied by an effusion of serous fluid into the pericardial cavity. [American Heritage].

Example from an 1828 death certificate from Pennsylvania:


An area of tissue that undergoes necrosis as a result of obstruction of local blood supply, as by a thrombus or embolus; Emphraxis. [Heritage]

Inflammation of the Heart


Mitral Murmur

A murmur produced at the mitral valve. It can be either obstructive or regurgitant. [American Heritage].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Mitral Insufficiency

Is a disorder of the heart in which the mitral valve does not close properly when the heart pumps out blood. It is the abnormal leaking of blood from the left ventricle, through the mitral valve, and into the left atrium, when the left ventricle contracts, i.e. there is regurgitation of blood back into the left atrium. MR is the most common form of valvular heart disease. [The Free Dictionary].

Example from a 1980 Death Certificate from Tennessee:

Mitral Regurgitation

Regurgitation of the blood current through the mitral orifice, due to valvular incompetence. [Appleton1904].

Backward flow of blood into the atrium due to mitral insufficiency. [Merriam-Webster].

Example from an 1892 Death Certificate from Australia:

Mitral Stenosis

A narrowing of the mitral valve, usually caused by rheumatic fever, resulting in an obstruction to the flow of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle. [Heritage]

Myocardial Asthenia

Myocardial weakness and decrease in the power of the heart's contraction, leading to reduction in cardiac reserve and ultimately to congestive heart failure. [Mosby's Medical Dictionary].

Myocardial Degeneration

Weakness of the heart muscle. Myocardial Asthenia.

Example from a 1935 Death Certificate:

Myocardial Infarction

Destruction of heart tissue resulting from obstruction of the blood supply to the heart muscle; Heart Attack. [Webster].

Necrosis of the cells of an area of the heart muscle (myocardium) occurring as a result of oxygen deprivation, which in turn is caused by obstruction to the blood supply; commonly referred to in humans as a 'heart attack'. [Mosby's Medical Dictionary].

Example from a 1979 Death Certificate from Canada:


Carditis. [Dunglison1855].

Inflammation of the myocardium (the muscular tissue of the heart). [Wordnet].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Neuralgia of the Heart

Angina Pectoris

Organic Heart Disease

When a person's heart does not act as it should, he is said to have functional heart disease; when the heart is inflamed or deformed, it is called organic heart disease. Organic heart disease may consist of inflammation of the heart with the formation of scars which deform the valves, just as a burn on the face causes a deformity of the face; or, it may consist of hardening of the muscles of the heart so that they can not do their work properly; or, the muscular tissue of the heart may become softened and stretched. All these affections are called organic diseases of the heart. Enlargement of the heart is also an organic form of heart disease, and may consist of the stretching of which I have just spoken, or a thickening of the heart muscle called hypertrophy.

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Ossification of the Heart

Angina Pectoris

Palpitation of the Heart

A violent, rapid, and often irregular beating of the heart, caused by emotional excitement, disease, or excessive action of any kind. It is usually functional rather than organic, and is most common in youth and middle life, especially among those engaged in sedentary occupations. [Appleton1904].

Example from an 1879 death certificate from New Brunswick, Canada:


Inflammation of all the structures of the heart. [CancerWEB]

Patent Foramen Ovale

While a baby grows in the womb, there is a normal opening between the left and right atria (upper chambers) of the heart. If this opening fails to close naturally soon after the baby is born, the hole is called patent foramen ovale (PFO). [Medline Plus].

Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is an anatomical interatrial communication with potential for right-to-left shunt. Foramen ovale has been known since the time of Galen. In 1564, Leonardi Botali, an Italian surgeon, was the first to describe the presence of foramen ovale at birth. However, the function of foramen ovale in utero was not known at that time. In 1877, Cohnheim described paradoxical embolism in relation to PFO. [eMedicine].

Example from a 1930 Death Certificate from Ohio:


Inflammation of the pericardium (sac enclosing the heart). [Heritage]

(Entry from an 1863 Church Record in Münster, Switzerland)

Pulmonary Apoplexy

Note: Apoplexy is now usually limited to cerebral apoplexy, or loss of consciousness due to effusion of blood or other lesion within the substance of the brain; but it is sometimes extended to denote an effusion of blood into the substance of any organ; as, apoplexy of the lung. [Webster]

Rheumatism of the Heart

Rheumatic cardiac valvular disease, most often of the mitral and aortic valves. [CancerWEB]

Rheumatic Valvulitis

That due to rheumatic fever, characterized by numerous small, translucent vegetations, composed of fibrin and platelets, located on the edges of the valve cusps along the lines of closure. The mitral valve is most frequently involved. It is sometimes incorrectly called rheumatic endocarditis.  [Dorland]

Sanguineous Apoplexy

When apoplexy is accompanied with a hard, full pulse, and flushed countenance, it is called Apoplexia sanguinea. [Dunglison1868].

Cerebral hemorrhage.

Serous Apoplexy

When apoplexy is accompanied with a feeble pulse and pale countenance, and evidences of serous effusion, it is called Apoplexia serosa. [Dunglison1868].

Example from a 1864 Death Certificate from Pennsylvania:


Angina pectoris. [American Heritage].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:



Suffocative Breast Pang

Angina Pectoris

Valvular Heart Disease

Endocarditis, valvulitis.

Example from a 1920 Death Certificate from Louisiana:


Inflammation of a valve or valvula, especially a cardiac valve. [Dorland]

Weakness of the Heart

Heart Failure