The autopsy is still valuable: National registries and promoting autopsy after sudden cardiac death

Dr Mary N. Sheppard

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Sudden cardiac death (SCD) as is defined as natural unexpected death in witnessed cases being <1 hour of symptoms and in unwitnessed cases as last seen alive <24hours (

1). We have to be very precise in the definition of SCD as many sudden deaths may not be cardiac. SCD is a major public health problem responsible for 15-20% of all deaths. While patients with ischaemic heart disease and cardiac failure are at high risk of SCD, most SCD occur in those who have been previously asymptomatic or have no known medical history, making it a very abrupt and traumatic experience for families. This fact also highlights that we are not good at predicting SCD in the general population.