"Sudden cardiac death is defined as
an event that is non-traumatic, non-violent, unexpected, and resulting from
sudden cardiac arrest within six hours of previously witnessed normal health."
(Sharma et al, 1997. Br J Sports Med)
The commonest cause of sudden cardiac death in older
people is usually coronary artery disease (blocked arteries in the
heart), whereas sudden cardiac death in young people (aged 35 or less) is
usually due to inherited heart conditions that run in families. Sudden cardiac
death can be a complication of some heart conditions - these conditions can
cause thickening or abnormal
structure of the heart muscle; or irregularities of the electrical impulses that
upset the natural rhythm of the heart. Once a potentially life-threatening
heart condition is identified, the risk of sudden death occurring can be
significantly reduced through lifestyle modifications, medication or surgery.
Conditions which, if undetected, can lead to
sudden cardiac death are