A Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) may be the first sign that the victim has had of a heart problem. In many cases, no definite cause of death can be found, even at autopsy. These deaths are thought to be caused by an arrhythmia and are labelled a Sudden Arrhythmic Death (SADS).

What causes SCD?

SCD can be caused by a number of different heart problems, many of which are inherited.
Some of these conditions include:

  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) - narrowing of the blood vessels in the heart. CHD affects young people as well as older people.
  • Cardiomyopathy (hypertrophic & dilated) - heart muscle problems.
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmia), such as Long QT Syndrome* & Brugada Syndrome*.
  • Diseases of the heart valves.
  • Disease of the heart's electrical system short-circuiting the normal pathways between the different chambers of the heart, such as Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome*.

Other causes of SCD include electrocution, viral infection (Myocarditis*), a blow to the chest and adverse reaction to drugs (legal & illegal).

This information has been reproduced with kind permission form The Irish Heart Foundation. More Information on Sudden Cardiac Death is available on their website.