Medical Q&As

Cause of death - explain?

My uncle recently died and my family have received the autopsy report. I was wondering if you can tell me what the cause of death means as my mother asked me to find out and can only seem to get medical jargon in dictionaries. The cause of death was stated as (a) cardiac arrhythmia and (b) cardiomegaly.

When a doctor completes a medical certificate of the cause of death he lists the disease or condition directly leading to death under section (a), which in the case of your uncle was listed as cardiac arrhythmia. Cardiac arrhythmia is a general medical term that refers to a wide variety of disturbances of cardiac rhythm. In other words your uncle had an irregular heart beat. Part (b) of the medical certificate lists the conditions that gave rise to the cause of death, which in the case of your uncle was listed as cardiomegaly. The term cardiomegaly simply means enlargement of the heart. There are many causes of cardiac enlargement and it might not be helpful for me to speculate about the possible causes of such enlargement in the case of your uncle. GPs are generally very open to discussing these matters with bereaved relatives so you might consider making contact with your uncle’s GP in order to get further information.