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Absent CORNEAL REFLEX
Absent VESTIBULO-OCULAR REFLEX
No cranial motor response to somatic (physical) stimulation
Absent gag and cough re?exes
No respiratory e?ort in response to APNOEA despite adequate concentrations of CARBON DIOXIDE in the arterial blood.... Medical Dictionary
All reversible pharmacological, metabolic, endocrine and physiological causes must be excluded, and there should be no doubt that irreversible brain damage has occurred. Two senior doctors carry out diagnostic tests to con?rm that brain-stem re?exes are absent. These tests must be repeated after a suitable interval before death can be declared. Imaging techniques are not required for death to be diag-... Medical Dictionary
11.8. The total mortality comprises individual deaths from di?erent causes: for example, accidents, cancer, coronary artery disease, strokes and suicides. Mortality is often calculated for speci?c groups in epidemiological (see EPIDEMIOLOGY) studies of particular diseases. Infant mortality measures the deaths of babies born alive who die during the ?rst year of life: infant deaths per 1,000 live births were steady at around 5 from 2003–2005.... Medical Dictionary
The two most common causes of death in the UK are diseases of the circulatory system (including strokes and heart disease) and cancer.
Overall annual death rates among women in the UK at the start of the 21st century were
7.98 per 1,000 population, and among men,
5.58 per 1,000. Comparable ?gures at the start of the 20th century were 16.3 for women and
18.4 for men. The death rates in 1900 among infants up to the age of four were 47.9 per 1,000 females and 57 per 1,000 males. By 2003 these numbers had fallen to 5.0 and 5.8 respectively. All these ?gures give a crude indication of how the health of Britain’s population has improved in the past century.
Death rates and ?gures on the causes of deaths are essential statistics in the study of EPIDEMIOLOGY which, along with information on the incidence of illnesses and injuries, provides a temporal and geographical map of changing health patterns in communities. Such information is valuable in planning preventive health measures (see PUBLIC HEALTH) and in identifying the natural history of diseases – knowledge that often contributes to the development of preventive measures and treatments for those diseases.... Medical Dictionary
The only certain sign of death, however, is that the heart has stopped beating. To ensure that this is permanent, it is necessary to listen over the heart with a stethoscope, or directly with the ear, for at least ?ve minutes. Permanent stoppage of breathing should also be con?rmed by observing that a mirror held before the mouth shows no haze, or that a feather placed on the upper lip does not ?utter.
In the vast majority of cases there is no dif?culty in ensuring that death has occurred. The introduction of organ transplantation, however, and of more e?ective mechanical means of resuscitation, such as ventilators, whereby an individual’s heart can be kept beating almost inde?nitely, has raised di?culties in a minority of cases. To solve the problem in these cases the concept of ‘brain death’ has been introduced. In this context it has to be borne in mind that there is no legal de?nition of death. Death has traditionally been diagnosed by the irreversible cessation of respiration and heartbeat. In the Code of Practice drawn up in 1983 by a Working Party of the Health Departments of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, however, it is stated that ‘death can also be diagnosed by the irreversible cessation of brain-stem function’. This is described as ‘brain death’. The brain stem consists of the mid-brain, pons and medulla oblongata which contain the centres controlling the vital processes of the body such as consciousness, breathing and the beating of the heart (see BRAIN). This new concept of death, which has been widely accepted in medical and legal circles throughout the world, means that it is now legitimate to equate brain death with death; that the essential component of brain death is death of the brain stem; and that a dead brain stem can be reliably diagnosed at the bedside. (See GLASGOW COMA SCALE.)
Four points are important in determining the time that has elapsed since death. HYPOSTASIS, or congestion, begins to appear as livid spots on the back, often mistaken for bruises, three hours or more after death. This is due to the blood running into the vessels in the lowest parts. Loss of heat begins at once after death, and the body has become as cold as the surrounding air after 12 hours – although this is delayed by hot weather, death from ASPHYXIA, and some other causes. Rigidity, or rigor mortis, begins in six hours, takes another six to become fully established, remains for 12 hours and passes o? during the succeeding 12 hours. It comes on quickly when extreme exertion has been indulged in immediately before death; conversely it is slow in onset and slight in death from wasting diseases, and slight or absent in children. It begins in the small muscles of the eyelid and jaw and then spreads over the body. PUTREFACTION is variable in time of onset, but usually begins in 2–3 days, as a greenish tint over the abdomen.... Medical Dictionary
Sudden death sometimes occurs in infants, usually in the ?rst year of life: this is called SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS) or, colloquially, cot death, the possible causes of which are an ongoing subject for research and debate.
When a person dies unexpectedly the event must be reported to a CORONER, who has the power to decide whether an AUTOPSY is necessary.... Medical Dictionary
Causes These are unknown, with possible multiple aetiology. Prematurity and low birth-weight may play a role. The sleeping position of a baby and an over-warm environment may be major factors, since deaths have fallen sharply since mothers were o?cially advised to place babies on their backs and not to overheat them. Some deaths are probably the result of respiratory infections, usually viral, which may stop breathing in at-risk infants, while others may result from the infant becoming smothered in a soft pillow. Faults in the baby’s central breathing control system (central APNOEA) may be a factor. Other possible factors include poor socioeconomic environment; vitamin E de?ciency; or smoking, drug addiction or anaemia in the mother. Help and advice may be obtained from the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths and the Cot Death Society.... Medical Dictionary