Sudden cardiac death: etiology, epidemiology, and prevention

Vilija Grumuldytė1, Indrė Sasnauskaitė1

1Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Academy of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is described as a natural and abrupt death from cardiac causes occurring within a short period of time (generally within 1 h of symptom onset) in the absence of any other potentially lethal condition. Unexpected death can also be confirmed when death occurs in less than 24 hours from the onset of symptoms [1]. Sudden cardiac arrest continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the Western world [2]. Although coronary heart disease remains the dominant underlying condition, our understanding of SCD is improving through greater knowledge of clinical risk factors, cardiomyopathies, and primary arrhythmic disorders [3]. Unfortunately, abrupt death may be the first manifestation of the disease in a family. Therefore, clinical and genetic evaluation of surviving family members forms an important role in diagnosing the underlying inherited cardiac condition in the family [4]. Advanced diagnostic tools, disease-specific therapy and defibrillator technology are improving outcomes for patients and their families although there is still much progress to be made [5,6]. Immediate CPR is essential for coronary and cerebral perfusion with a view to reducing morbidity and mortality after cardiac arrest [7,8].

Keywords: sudden cardiac death, genetic testing, channelopathies, inherited arrhythmia.