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Jpn Circ J. 1989 Dec;53(12):1581-8.

An epidemiologic and histopathological study of sudden cardiac death in Osaka Medical Examiner's Office.

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  • 1Department of Legal Medicine, Osaka University Medical School, Japan.


From 1982 to 1986, 1230 sudden death cases were autopsied in Osaka Medical Examiner's Office. Among them, 810 cases were sudden cardiac deaths (SCD) including coronary heart disease (77%), cardiomyopathy (7%), valvular disease (3%). All SCD cases were dead within 24 hours of the appearance of the fatal symptoms, and most of them (72%) were considered instantaneous death. Many of the fatal symptoms began in bed (31%), at bath (17%), at toilet (8%), or at work (8%). Thirty-four percent of them were thought by themselves or by their families to be healthy before the death. Hypertension (38%), coronary heart disease (13%) and diabetes mellitus (11%) were the major past history recorded. Microscopic observation of the hearts of 200 cases autopsied in 1986 showed various cardiac lesions: hypertrophy, atrophy, degenerations of myocytes, cellular and fatty infiltrations of the interstitium. According to their cardiac lesions and degrees of severity of coronary sclerosis, patients who died suddenly were divided into 8 groups as follows: 1. myocardial infarction (41) 2. myocarditis (6) 3. hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (19) 4. chronic ischemia with severe coronary sclerosis (65) 5. chronic ischemia with moderate coronary sclerosis (27) 6. small vessel disease (18) 7. amyloidosis (1) 8. unknown (23). These results suggest that coronary heart disease and hypertension play an important role in SCD.

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