Updated: 3/8/2018

Sudden Cardiac Death

Review Topic
  • A 52-year-old man was eating dinner with his family before unexpectedly collapsing. He was recently diagnosed with an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction affecting his anterolateral heart. In the emergency room, an electrocardiogram demonstrates ventricular tachycardia. Despite resuscitative efforts, he dies within the next 30 minutes.
  • Clinical definition
    • unexpected death secondary to cardiac causes within 1 hour of symptom onset
  • Epidemiology
    • risk factors
      • coronary artery disease (leading cause)
      • hereditary or acquired cardiac conduction abnormalities
      • congenital coronary artery abnormalities
      • myocardial hypertrophy
      • mitral valve prolapse
  • Pathogenesis
    • most often due to a lethal arrhythmia such as
      • asystole 
      • ventricular fibrillation  
      • ventricular tachycardia 
  • Prognosis
    • early effective medical intervention and implantable automatic cardioverter defibrillators improve outcomes

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