In the UK, unexplained sudden
death is frequently recorded as due to death from natural causes. Experts believe that most
of these deaths are due to
the law is changed and coroners have to refer hearts on to
specialists we will
not know the true figures.
CRY's fast track
pathology service enables the cause of death in a sudden death case to be
established more quickly and accurately than might otherwise happen if left to a
local coroner who does not have expertise in cardiac pathology.
Any death where the cause is
not immediately known has to - by law - be reported to the coroner. This is in
addition to deaths that are due to non-natural causes. About one third of all deaths
are reported to the
If it can be established clearly and reasonably quickly that the death is not due to some non-natural
cause or outside influence (such as injury, drugs, poisoning, etc) but is due
to a cause - however unexpected or rare - that arises from spontaneously
occurring physiology, then the death will be certified by the coroner as due to
natural causes. That cause will be stated and documents will be issued to enable
the death to be registered and the funeral to go ahead.
deaths are classified as 'death from
natural causes'. Yet to bereaved families, there can seem to be nothing less natural than to lose an active
young person in this way. Frequently there have been no apparent symptoms; usually the young person will have died whilst engaged in some perfectly normal
activity - eating, drinking, taking exercise or in their sleep.
death of a child or young adult is so totally out of order with the sequence of
life that it can have devastating consequences within the family, and also the
With sudden cardiac death, not only has there been no preparation for such a death (as
in terminal illness), but nor is the death accidental - when there is an obvious and
direct link between an occurrence and the tragic consequences. This can lead to
those closest to the one that has died blaming themselves for overlooking
possible symptoms. Dealing with their terrible loss is then compounded by
feelings of guilt.
See the counselling section for more on