Belfast Telegraph

Stroke that killed man not linked to existing blood clot

By Chris Kilpatrick

A 52-year-old farmer suffering deep vein thrombosis (DVT) died suddenly from a massive stroke in an extraordinary coincidence, an inquest has been told.

Just over a week before his death, John Harvey visited an out-of-hours doctor complaining of discomfort in his lower leg.

He was immediately referred to accident and emergency at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry where a nurse and another doctor examined him. He was discharged with anti-inflammatory medication.

Two days later, on October 22, 2012, Mr Harvey visited a locum GP complaining of discomfort in both his ear and lower leg.

He was again prescribed medication. On October 26, 2012, Mr Harvey collapsed in the bathroom of his Crossmaglen home.

He was rushed to Daisy Hill Hospital where he was found to have large clots in his lungs. He subsequently suffered a massive stroke in intensive care at Craigavon Area Hospital which proved fatal and died on October 28, 2012.

Mr Harvey's wife Pauline and their children were present at an inquest into his death at Armagh Courthouse yesterday.

Mrs Harvey wept in the witness box as she told coroner Jim Kitson her husband was "a big strong man" who was "easy-going".

Mr Kitson had warned the family it would be a distressing day for them.

Mrs Harvy said her husband had previously been in generally good health.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Alistair Bentley carried out a post-mortem examination on the body of Mr Harvey.

A deep vein thrombosis was found to have travelled to Mr Harvey's lungs. The inquest was told the fatal stroke was highly unlikely to have been related to the deep vein thrombosis.

It was said to have been down to the blockage of the basilar artery, starving the brain of oxygen. Mr Kitson asked the pathologist: "You can't identify any link between the first clot and second clotting within the brain?" Dr Bentley replied: "That's correct."

"It seems an extraordinary coincidence," Mr Kitson said.

"It is," replied the pathologist, "but I could find nothing to link them."

Mr Bentley confirmed it was possible for somebody to be prone to blood clots without knowing.

Having been discharged from Daisy Hill Hospital on October 20, Mr Harvey visited a locum GP who, like the doctor at the hospital, said he examined whether Mr Harvey had a deep vein thrombosis but it was his expert opinion that was not the case.

They came to that conclusion having used a system, Wells' Criteria, designed to highlight any risk of deep vein thrombosis.

Mr Kitson concluded Mr Harvey's death was as a result of an infarct in the brain.

He said at the time of the death, Mr Harvey had an "underlined but unrelated" deep vein thrombosis.

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