The death of Stalin — Was it a natural death or poisoning?

Journal/Website: 
Surgical Neurology International
Article Type: 
Letter to the Editor
Published Date: 
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Source: 
http://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint_articles/the-death-of-stalin-was-it-a-natural-death-or-poisoning/

Dear Editor,

The late scholar and medical researcher Plinio Prioreschi (1930–2014) MD., Ph.D., warned physicians and surgeons of the danger of neglecting medical history and delegating the task to social historians or journalists with little or no medical or surgical knowledge. Dr. Prioreschi summarized the point by stating that competent medical history is medicine. Medicine being a very esoteric field cannot easily be mastered by nonphysicians. Prioreschi wrote, “the asymmetry (in esoterism) between science and the humanities…allows the physicist to be a poet but forbids a poet to be a physicist.”[5] The same goes for historians and physicians. Because of the high degree of esoterism involved in medicine, physicians can be historians, but historians cannot be physicians without training in medicine.[5] The mysterious death of Stalin is an excellent and instructive case in point.

Joseph Stalin's body lies in stateOn the fiftieth anniversary of Joseph Stalin's death, the British newspaper, the Daily Mail, headlined, “It's official! Stalin died of natural causes: Autopsy published for 1st time says Soviet leader suffocated after suffering a stroke death as from ‘natural causes.’”[4] Neither the journalist nor historian involved in this article apparently were aware of the article I wrote in Surgical Neurology International 2 years previously concluding with the strong possibility of the complete opposite. Two previous books[2,6] had already done a lot of footwork on Stalin's final hours and ended, as I did, strongly suggesting the possibility that Stalin was poisoned by members of his own inner circle, led by the head of the secret police, Minister of State Security Lavrenti Beria.[3] The work of those authors was supported by the portion of the autopsy report that was published in Pravda in 1953 and which I cited in my article:

“AUTOPSY OF THE BODY OF J. V. STALIN: Postmortem examination disclosed a large hemorrhage in the sphere of the subcortical nodes of the left hemisphere of the brain. This hemorrhage destroyed important areas of the brain and caused irreversible disorders of respiration and blood circulation. Besides the brain hemorrhage there were established substantial enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart, numerous hemorrhages in the cardiac muscle and in the lining of the stomach and intestine, and arteriosclerotic changes in the blood vessels, expressed especially strongly in the arteries of the brain. These processes were the result of high blood pressure.

“The findings of the autopsy entirely confirm the diagnosis made by the professors and doctors who treated J. V. Stalin.

“The data of the postmortem examination established the irreversible nature of J. V. Stalin's illness from the moment of the cerebral hemorrhage. Accordingly, the energetic treatment which was undertaken could not have led to a favorable result or averted the fatal end.

“U.S.S.R. Minister of Public Health A. F. Tretyakov; Head of the Kremlin Medical Office I. I. Kuperin; Academician N. N. Anichkov, President of the Academy of Medicine; Prof. M. A. Skvortsov, Member of the Academy of Medicine; Prof. S. R.”[1]

What the Daily Mail journalist and the social historian did not understand is that if there was evidence of hemorrhage in any body system other than the brain, then this was strong evidence for a bleeding diathesis or poisoning as I described. Stalin did not have a history of a bleeding diathesis or treatment with anticoagulation, therefore poisoning by systemic anticoagulation is the most likely cause for the “numerous hemorrhages in the cardiac muscle and in the lining of the stomach and intestine.”[1]

If the bleeding had been restricted to the brain, as with a hypertensive cerebral hemorrhage, then we could have safely ascribed the cause of death as “suffocation after suffering a stroke,”[4] but that was not the case. I conveyed this information to the historian consulted by the Daily Mail and asked for clarification, comment or rebuttal but received no response. And so I correct the record with this correspondence in SNI.

I explained in my article why the Soviet doctors, who signed the autopsy report, may have been reluctant to propound any cause of death other than natural causes. Lavrenti Beria, the head of the secret police, was then the head of the ruling hierarchy in the Soviet Union, and it was he who would have been the number one suspect. The admission of poisoning of Stalin would have led to Beria as a suspect if not the culprit. So poisoning as the cause of death would have been out of the question as the official cause of Stalin's death in the official autopsy report.

The doctors from the Ministry of Health who signed the autopsy and other medical reports acted cautiously:[3]

As much as was possible to put in writing from a political standpoint, without getting their own heads into the repressive Soviet noose (was included in the autopsy report)! They also correctly protected the physicians who treated Stalin. Needless to say, the Doctors’ Plot episode was very fresh in their minds.[2]

While prudently citing hypertension as the culprit, the good doctors left behind enough traces of pathological evidence in their brief report to let posterity know they fulfilled their professional duties, as best they could, without compromising their careers or their lives with the new masters at the Kremlin. High blood pressure, per se, commonly results in hypertensive cerebral hemorrhage and stroke but does not usually produce concomitant hematemesis (vomiting blood), as we see here in the clinical case of Stalin, and a further bleeding diathesis affecting the heart muscle, scantily as it is supported by the positive autopsy findings.

As I have written elsewhere, we now possess clinical and forensic evidence supporting the long-held suspicion that Stalin was indeed poisoned by members of his own inner circle, most likely Lavrenti Beria, and perhaps even Nikita Khrushchev, all of whom feared for their lives. However, Stalin, the brutal Soviet dictator, was (and still is in some quarters of Democratic Russia) worshipped as a demigod – and his assassination would have been unacceptable to the Russian populace. So it was kept a secret until now.[3]

I have concluded this letter citing my previous article above, as it remains unchallenged with no new disputing scholarship in the medical or historical literature. We continue to believe Stalin was poisoned unless the autopsy findings cited above are found to be erroneous or fabricated, which is very doubtful.

References

1. Autopsy of the Body of J. V. STALIN. Pravda, March 7, 1953, p. 2.
 
2. Brent J and Naumov VP. Stalin’s Last Crime — The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953. New York, NY: HarperCollins; 2003, p. 312-22.
 
3. Faria MA. Stalin’s mysterious death. Surg Neurol Int 2011 2:161. Available from:  http://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint_articles/stalins-mysterious-... [Last accessed on 2015 May 20].
 
4. Hall A. It’s official! Stalin died of natural causes: Autopsy published for first time says Soviet leader suffocated after suffering a stroke. Daily Mail, March 12, 2013. Available from:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2292123/Stalin-died-natural-caus... [Last accessed on 2015 May 20].
 
5. Prioreschi P. A History of Medicine. Vol. I: Primitive and Ancient Medicine. Omaha, Nebraska: Horatius Press; 1995. p. xvii-xxx. [See my review of this book in Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:87. Available from: http://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint_articles/a-fascinating-look-... [Last accessed on 2015 June 15].
 
6. Radzinsky E. Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia’s Secret Archives. (Translated by H. T. Willetts). Anchor Book edition, 1997, p. 566-82.

Article written by: Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. He is an Associate Editor in Chief and a World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI), and an Ex-member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2002-05; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002), Editor Emeritus, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS); Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). 

This article was originally published in Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:128. This article can be cited as: Faria MA. The death of Stalin — Was it a natural death or poisoning? Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:128. Available from: http://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint_articles/the-death-of-stalin...

Copyright ©2015 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD


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Comments on this post

Vladimir I. Lenin's eyegrounds

I have not had the time yet to continue my quest for Lenin's postmortem report. But let us think of Lenin's eyegrounds. I am debating syphilis because it is not only the strokes that have been ascribed to it, but the change in his behavior, so that must be a suggestion of General Paresis of the Insane (GPI). Although we now know that Stalin did indeed follow Lenin's path, there is no doubt that Lenin was not a personally cruel man, as was Stalin. It becomes increasingly evident that Lenin, though always a dictator, does become more vicious over the course of his rule even before his first major symptoms occurred in December 1921.

Let us say the autopsy was fabricated to cover up syphilis, which I really don't believe for a moment. But if it was, aren't the chances of GPI being associated with primary optic atrophy (or sometimes neuroretinitis) pretty high? But yet he did not ever complain of visual difficulties, and on the day of his death he complained of eye pain, and a doctor examining the eyes said they were in great shape. Then it is even more bizarre if he did have atherosclerosis of the cerebral vessels, since how could a case that severe not be reflected in the retinal arteries? Or did the doctor mean the statement relatively?

Stalin lived long enough to develop early papilledema from the mass effect, so if he had a Cushing's reflex, I would expect that there would at least be a bit of choking. Because I don't believe the reflex was successful if it did occur. Also, he should have had atherosclerotic deposits in the retinal arteries as well.

***Yea, I know. Choking is a quaint term, but they did not even use "papilledema" until around l908. I forgot who it was who first said that you shouldn't say "optic neuritis" because it was not an inflammation.
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Dr. Faria replies: Lenin was also a vicious and cruel man, but not to his political friends, as was the case with Stalin. Lenin did not mind exterminating enemies of the [communist] State, and it was he, as Solzhenitsyn pointed out, who ushered in the utter extermination of class enemies as State policy, as well as those deemed "enemies of the people" or "enemies of the State." It was Lenin who began the Cheka, the use of terror for political purposes, the forming of concentration camps for labor as for the extermination of political enemies, and who commenced the bloodshed in Russia, etc. Stalin developed it into a sanguinary art form, founding a solid and complete totalitarian State in which no on was safe, not the Politburo, not the leaders of the secret police, not even his own friends or family!

As to your clinical observations, they are very intriguing but I think we do need to do more research and write a paper on Lenin's illness and death. There are quite a few books written about it, but we can now find material that was not available to previous authors. Let me know if this interest you. --- MAF

Vladimir I. Lenin's eyegrounds continued...

I think that is a very good idea. Many papers have been published on Lenin's brain, but we might have a completely different take on it, because these authors do not seem to have read the complete autopsy report. Also, those books were more about the total person of Lenin, rather than focusing on his illness. I am going to do some extensive searching Saturday, and find what I can. Until then, let's just hope I can get lucky!

Being so extensive, the autopsy report even goes into detail about the scarred pleura where the bullet hit his chest, and the surgical scar that went deep into his neck from the removal of the bullet fired by Fannie Kaplan in 1918. After his neurological symptoms commenced in December 1921, doctors felt the bullet might be near one of the external carotids, and that might be causing his troubles. X-rays were taken in 1922 prior to surgery to localize the bullet. It was then removed. I don't know what a country like that still in chaos from the Civil War would use for recording of the x-rays, but it might well still have been glass plates. If it were, there is little hope it wasn't destroyed. But if it is still extant, I recall how doctors at the autopsy were shocked to find that when they struck one of internal carotids with a scalpel, it was so hard and full of deposits that it rang like s bell. So I wonder how badly the external carotid arteries were also narrowed and hard as well. So - you see- it would be very interesting to see these x-rays, even though they were taken for a different reason.

I make that distinction of Lenin not being a personally cruel man, because I do believe it would have been somewhat less barbaric had he lived out a full life instead of dying at 54. The real reason Stalin could follow in Lenin's path was because Lenin had already set up the laws Stalin could use to turn the country into complete lawlessness. For instance, the banning of all party factions but the Bolshevik one early in his regime. Lenin was a lawyer, so he knew how to do these things...even in a dictatorship you need to set boundaries on what people are allowed and not allowed to do. However, we see by the benign looking Stalinist constitution of 1936 that Stalin learned Lenin's techniques quite well, as you wouldn't know that constitution was actually the opposite of what it apparently said if you did not read it thoughtfully. BUT, most do know that in the case of Lenin, it was Hitler (while ranting about "Jewish" Bolshevism) used Lenin's camps as a model for his own. Not that he would ever have admitted it.

The Cheka head (1918-1926) "Iron Felix" was a brutal and fanatical communist. It could hardly get worse than him.
But he had a sudden development of consciousness for all he had done and repented in every way possible to surviving family members of those he played judge, jury, and executioner for. He died suddenly at a relatively young age in August 1926 right after a Politburo meeting of a heart attack. It could hardly be a secret that Stalin was furious to see such weakness in what was now his police chief of the GPU (renamed Cheka). Perhaps Stalin could poison as well as be poisoned? This is another mystery that we might never know the answer to, though many have speculated on it.

I will have that picture for you soon, and get to read what sounds like a fascinating article you sent me by the weekend.

Two related but separate phenomena?

Again, I apologize for wrongfully questioning Dr. Blaylock's obvious expertise, but I wonder if we are not confusing Cushing's reflex with its secondary effect of Cushing's ulcer? As a matter of fact, Cushing's ulcer is not always due to mechanisms following Cushing's reflex. I do think I see what my thinking was now, however. The ICP may be acutely raised to cause a Cushing's reflex, but it must be a prolonged acute raise in the ICP if an ulcer is to develop. Also, since the purpose of this reflex is to overcome reduction of blood flow to the brain, it is associated with an increase in the systolic blood pressure, which should then reduce if the homeostatic compensation was successful. If the systolic pressure remains high, and compensation is not successful, then brain death must proceed shortly. So I am trying to determine the clinical series of events here again. It does not seem that Stalin was anywhere near brain death until his somatic death, and it also seems that his systolic never significantly reduced. That would argue against a Cushing's reflex. However, we do not have a baseline figure for his systolic blood pressure before this event, do we? Perhaps it did reduce to this from something much higher so that he was able to regain enough cerebral perfusion to survive a few days with a mass intracranial lesion. I might expect with the crude supportive treatment given that the bleed may have began to diminish in size if no further bleeding occurred, but not enough for him to survive it. Perhaps death was due to cardiac decompensation, because the damaged heart was now working even harder? The brain is still extant, and if a Cushing's reflex and/or Cushing's ulcer were present, it likely would be associated with physical signs of brainstem herniation. Perhaps not so massive as to be immediately fatal, but enough that we should be able to spot it. A better question would be whether the other viscera removed at the autopsy are still lying around somewhere, and this goes for Lenin as well. That is something I have never been able to determine, but they might be even more informative than the brain to examine.

He may have been poisoned. I might be a bit too stubborn with this one. However, Stalin was likely planning to kill all of his trusted comrades, and they all knew it. It could have been any or all of them, and not one word they said concerning who did it can be trusted because of these circumstances. It was also clear to them (and should be to us) that it would have been preferable for Stalin to remain in office rather than have Beria succeed him. Beria was truly such a base, evil animal that he disgusted even Stalin, but Stalin needed him so he put up with it.

However, had such a hypertensive hemorrhage of the brain occurred spontaneously without any human inducement, these individuals would have acted precisely as they did as if they had poisoned him, because they clearly were debating what they needed to do to survive. Even these atheists would have considered it a gift from God.

Lenin's autopsy report is by far the more interesting of the two, because of the tremendous of amount of "meat" in it. However, it is proving exceedingly difficult to locate, for reasons I will explain later. I will continue to try. I would not like any of you not to get a chance to read it. Best Regards, Adam.
Adam R. Bogart, PhD. Behavioral Neuroscientist at the Sanders Brown Center for Aging University of Kentucky, Lexington. Dr. Bogart obtained his PhD at Behavioral Neuroscience, Kent State University Kent, Ohio; Post doctoral fellow, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Bronx, NY; MS Immunology conjointly Adelphi University/Mount Sinai Medical Center, NY.
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Adam, this is an excellent post, a thoughtful assessment with good neurophysiology and neuropathology to ponder. Thank you for your contribution and welcome to haciendapub.com. We look forward to hear from you as a frequent contributor. This website is where politics, history and frequently philosophy and science meet!— MAF

Lenin's autopsy recollected

... if you want to quote a bit of what I said concerning Lenin now, as I continue to look through old boxes these evenings (don't worry... it is well worth the time!) that might get people started thinking a bit. You could even tell them the reason it is so difficult to access the report. I do recall it being on line somewhere once, but it has since disappeared. It must have been around 1992 or so when I read the book. I was just out of college. I wish I remembered who wrote it or its title.

Another point to ponder is why we don't have any record of the [optic] fundi examination in Stalin or Lenin. I would find these interesting for different reasons. It is hard to imagine someone didn't examine the nerve heads and retinal arteries...

I will write up the more interesting synopsis on Lenin, but it may take a bit of time. The problem is that [the material on his autopsy] was never on the internet as far as I know. It was in a book printed in the 1960s on his life, and I am not even sure why such a detailed report was included. As it was, I made photocopies, but they have proven difficult to locate. I found as I learned more that the clinical history correlated well with the autopsy report, and I felt as some did that the atherosclerosis was hereditary. I just may be able to find the old photo copies and I will scan them and write something up as soon (and if) I do. I am aware of the claims that Lenin was treated with Potassium Iodide and later Neo-Arsphenamine, but in those days this was often done empirically even when blood and CSF did not show T. Pallidum by Wasserman or dark field illumination. Early 20th century neurosurgeons such as Cushing and Victor Horsley vigorously campaigned for shortening the length of time that these treatments were applied, because of the danger of amaurosis following secondary optic atrophy if the lesion were a brain tumor or an avascular syphilitic gumma.

In any case, the lesion of the vessels in Lenin's brain were not characteristic of meningovascular or syphilitic meningoencephalitis. Neither was the time course for tertiary syphilis.--- Best regards, Adam

Stalin's death controversy

Dear Dr. Faria, 
Re. “AUTOPSY OF THE BODY OF J. V. STALIN: Postmortem examination disclosed a large hemorrhage in the sphere of the subcortical nodes of the left hemisphere of the brain. This hemorrhage destroyed important areas of the brain and caused irreversible disorders of respiration and blood circulation. Besides the brain hemorrhage there were established substantial enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart, numerous hemorrhages in the cardiac muscle and in the lining of the stomach and intestine, and arteriosclerotic changes in the blood vessels, expressed especially strongly in the arteries of the brain. These processes were the result of high blood pressure.”
 
Lenin’s autopsy report read like an autopsy report should have, and it was written in January 1924. Essentially, there was no difference between it and a modern autopsy report. I believe the only difficulty some had with it was that it ascribed the immediate cause of death to a hemorrhage in the region of the corpora quadrigemina, which would not have been a fatal issue, if an issue at all. The clinical history of the day before (21 Jan 1924) indicates a series of unrelenting seizures with no supervening return of consciousness. The true cause – status epilepticus – should have been evident to the autopsy surgeon (Commissar of Health Semashko) even then, especially when he saw the amount of cortical gliosis that would have led to epileptogenic foci.
 
I could make a case as to the suspiciousness of Lenin not being put under chloroform, ether, or even barbiturates, which would have saved his life. He would have died anyway, but not that day.  He may have been the one person Stalin truly admired and adored, but it didn’t matter. Stalin needed him out of the way, and was in charge of his medical care and essentially, everyday activities.
 
But you have here an autopsy report printed in Pravda which does not even make sense as to the description of the anatomical location of the cerebral bleed. What “sphere of subcortical nodes”? I want to know (since you must be aware he survived for a few days after the bleed) why you do not think these hemorrhages in the GI mucosa could not have been agonal? It is not indicated that they were massive and pronounced, which is what would have been expected if anti-clotting agents had been administered. The brain should not have been more vulnerable than the rest of the viscera, atherosclerotic changes notwithstanding. The left cardiac ventricle was pathologically enlarged, but not enough information is given grossly or microscopically for me to make any conclusion. In Lenin’s case, you see, it was. 

Please do not take this as a criticism of your letter, which I very much enjoyed. I just want your further opinions on some points you made. If I didn’t like what you wrote, I wouldn’t bother writing you. Sincerely, Dr. Adam R. Bogart
————
Dear Dr. Bogart,
As to the Stalin Pravda autopsy report, your opinion is partially the same as mine: The Pravda and probably the medical report itself were subject to subtle tampering because of the political implications, as I described and opined in my initial article. My articles were published in Surgical Neurology International, but most subsequent comments were posted at my personal website, so I refer you there: http://haciendapub.com/articles/stalins-mysterious-death

I reemphasized the political implications in my subsequent letter. I wrote the German scholar who had access to the original material in the Kremlin, but he never answered me. See my second letter: http://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint_articles/the-death-of-stalin...

Yes, the hemorrhages in the GI mucosa could have been agonal, which, as also noted by Dr Blaylock in a comment posted at my website, he referred to as Cushing’s ulcer being a neurosurgeon. My opinion that Stalin was most likely poisoned is based on the totality of the circumstances, as noted by the witnesses to the event, the political situation and leadership, etc.— and not just his clinical course and the incomplete and “doctored” autopsy report.

It occurs to me that my article on the outcome of most of the Bolsheviks may also be of interest: http://haciendapub.com/articles/stalin-communists-and-fatal-statistics

As to Lenin, you suggest that his autopsy report was not tampered with, as opposed to Stalin’s. And yet, he had been ill for sometime and had had several strokes before his fatal one — was all this commented or correlated in the autopsy? There was also a clinical report of probable tertiary cerebral syphilis, etc. In Lenin’s case, though, he had been ill for sometime and no one was surprised about his death. Yes, Stalin was in charge of his health and controlled his access to the outside world! Frankly, I’ve not seen or studied Lenin’s autopsy. If you could email it to me, it would be greatly appreciated. What are your conclusions in each case? Sincerely, Dr. Miguel A. Faria
————
Dr. Faria, You are a very thought provoking, doctor. I am composing a response. I will send it off to you in a day or two. I am surprised Dr. Blaylock would think a cerebral hemorrhage of a few day's duration would be the etiology of a Cushing's ulcer, because I at least believed you usually found these in cases where intracranial pressure was chronically raised, such as in brain tumor. I am imagining Stalin's as punctate hemorrhages of the GI mucosa, but I really don't know. In any case, even if we don't agree on the poisoning, I can't agree with Dr. Blaylock.

Still, this was 1953. You would think that instead of leeches and magnesium sulfate, they could have done a ventriculogram and tried to evacuate the hemorrhage through the burr holes. This was not real difficult stuff. Yes, they did have qualified neurosurgeons and radiologists in Russia in 1953, and why not one for the head of state? Best Regards, Adam
————
I believe Dr. Bogart’s fundamental premise that GI hemorrhage occurs with chronic ICP is incorrect. It is a response to acute rise in ICP. James I. Ausman, M.D., PhD.,/strong>
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I do want to clarify that we should not end up second guessing ourselves or the Soviets, because we could do that forever. I will stipulate that both autopsy reports are authentic, but Lenin's is a complete and systematic examination of every organ system using correct and modern terminology. It was obviously done with great care.

The report on Stalin reads like a junior high school student wrote it. It is not so much that it is false, it is that it is simply hard to understand it. There is so little there to help make any reasonable conclusion. Dr. Adam R. Bogart
————
I agree that "we should not end up second guessing ourselves or the Soviets [absolutely more than we have to], because we could do that forever." But I stand by my articles and as I explained:

The Soviet doctors, who signed the autopsy report, may have been reluctant to propound any cause of death other than natural causes. Lavrenti Beria, the head of the secret police, was then the head of the ruling hierarchy in the Soviet Union, and it was he who would have been the number one suspect. The admission of poisoning of Stalin would have led to Beria as a suspect if not the culprit. So poisoning as the cause of death would have been out of the question as the official cause of Stalin's death in the official autopsy report.

Therefore the doctors at the Ministry of Health acted cautiously and wrote the report as they did superficially and ambiguous as to protect themselves and debasing their professional integrity, while also protecting the physicians who treated Stalin:

While prudently citing hypertension as the culprit, the good doctors left behind enough traces of pathological evidence in their brief report to let posterity know they fulfilled their professional duties, as best they could, without compromising their careers or their lives with the new masters at the Kremlin. --- Dr. Miguel A. Faria

Further thoughts on Stalin's death

... I would like to explain my thinking on Cushing's ulcer. Apparently, it is not so simple a phenomenon as perhaps any of us might have believed (well, at least me). But I do admit I spoke a bit too soon about the ICP having to be chronically raised. I do need to set the record straight on my error.

I had originally started out in GI immunology before becoming devoted to MRI research (brain). Having needed specimens of stomach, small, and large bowel from the OR and autopsy for my MS thesis, I had seen the phenomenon with brain tumors, and so I guess I formed my opinion out of anecdotal ignorance. Plus, reading older case reports when the mechanism was not as clear cut as it is
today. Even now there are some questions.

I like your format!!! I have just set up an account.--- Adam
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You are probably right— Stalin was poisoned. But GI and cardiac hemorrhages can occur acutely when the ICP is very high. Interesting discussions as always.--- Russell

Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.
Theoretical Neuroscience Research, LLC
Associate Editor-in-Chief, Surgical Neurology International

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The absence of hemorrhages anywhere else but in the left cerebral hemisphere stemming from the deep gray matter [cerebral nodes?] would have essentially ruled out poisoning, given the clinical and pathological evidence of hypertensive atherosclerosis. But the autopsy findings in conjunction with all the other circumstantial evidence provided by Edvard Radzinsky in his book Stalin , and authors Jonathan Brent and Vladimir P. Naumov in their book Stalin's Last Crime — The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors , strongly suggest that Stalin was poisoned, providing a modicum of retributive justice for his incredible crimes. --- MAF