ARTICLE: Introduction to a compendium on sudden cardiac death: epidemiology, mechanisms and management

AUTHOR: Gordon F. Tomaselli

JOURNAL: Circulation Research. June 5, 2015; Vol. 116, No. 12

Overview of Sudden Cardiac Death and Scope of the Compendium

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a devastating complication of many forms of heart disease and on occasion presents in the absence of structural cardiac abnormalities. SCD caused by ventricular arrhythmias is a daunting public health problem with 200,000 to 450,000 events in the United States annually.1 There are many challenges in the definition, mechanisms and management of SCD that will be addressed in the chapters of this compendium by leading experts in the field. The compendium will address gaps in our understanding of SCD and resuscitated SCD or sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) from genes to society and highlight opportunities for ongoing investigation.

The epidemiology of SCD/SCA is dynamic and heterogeneous as they are the proximate causes of sudden death. Secular trends in incidence, mechanisms and survival will be addressed, as well as the epidemiology of rarer heritable causes of SCD. The evolution of the causes of SCD/SCA and the relatively poor survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest have motivated studies to better assess risk and to implement strategies for prevention of underlying cardiovascular diseases. Basic science studies aimed at understanding the mechanisms of ventricular arrhythmias and the basis of pulseless electric activity (PEA) may afford new insights into to risk assessment and management of arrhythmic and nonarrhythmic causes of SCD/SCA and approaches to cardiac resuscitation.

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