Cardiac pathology in 470 consecutive forensic autopsies

M. J. Catellier, B. F. Waller, M. A. Clark, J. E. Pless, D. A. Hawley, A. W. Nyhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Cardiovascular disease continues to be the single most common generic cause of sudden and unexpected deaths. Atherosclerotic coronary heart disease and acute myocardial infarction are the most prevalent forms of fatal cardiac disease observed at autopsy. Other cardiac lesions are frequently listed as causes of death, but the prevalence of such lesions as incidental findings in the general population is unknown. In this study, 470 consecutive forensic autopsies were evaluated for minor and major anomalies. The most frequently observed major congenital finding was floppy mitral valve (5%). Tunneled coronary arteries, considered minor congenital findings, were seen in 29%. Atherosclerotic coronary heart disease was the most common major acquired finding, observed in 16% of cases. Of the 470 hearts, only 8% were considered normal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1054
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990


  • autopsy
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cardiovascular system
  • congenital heart disease
  • coronary atherosclerosis
  • forensic pathology
  • heart
  • pathology and biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics

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