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Curr Probl Cardiol. 2007 Sep;32(9):501-46.

Sudden cardiac death: epidemiology, mechanisms, and therapy.

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University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Sudden cardiac death is a major public health problem affecting 500,000 patients annually in the United States alone. The major risk factor for sudden cardiac death is the presence of coronary artery disease, usually in the setting of reduced ejection fraction. Globally, the incidence is expected to rise sharply as the prevalence of coronary artery disease and heart failure continue to increase. However, sudden cardiac death is a heterogeneous condition and may be caused by acute ischemia, structural defects, myocardial scar, and/or genetic mutations. Sudden death may occur even in a grossly normal heart. Beta-blockers can reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, while implantable cardioverter defibrillators are effective at terminating malignant arrhythmias. Ejection fraction remains the major criterion to stratify patients for defibrillator implantation but this strategy alone is insensitive and nonspecific. Novel clinical, electrophysiologic, and genetic markers have been identified that may increase precision in patient selection for primary prevention therapy. This review discusses the epidemiology, mechanisms, etiologies, therapies, treatment guidelines, and future directions in the management of sudden cardiac death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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