Abstract 16217: Symptoms Prior to Sudden Unexplained Death: A Nationwide Study in Young Danish People
Objective: The aim of this nationwide study was to identify and describe symptoms and medical history prior to sudden unexplained death (SUD) in young persons aged 1–35 years in Denmark.
Methods: We have previously in a nationwide setting identified all sudden cardiac deaths (SCD) in young Danish people aged 1–35 years. All deaths (n=6629) in the period 2000–2006 were included. There were 314 autopsied SCD persons of which 136 persons remained sudden and unexplained (SUD) after autopsy. We used the National Patient Registry to identify previous contacts with the healthcare systems for all 136 persons with SUD. We retrieved and read all available patient records from general practitioners and hospitals, including death certificates and autopsy reports.
Results: A total of 50 (37%) SUD persons had cardiac symptoms prior to death and among them 30 (22%) persons had a contact to the healthcare system. Antecedent symptoms (symptoms >24 hours before death) were present in 34 (25%) of SUD persons. Prodromal symptoms (symptoms <24 hours before death) were present in 23 (17%). Cardiac symptoms were: syncope (n=18, 13%), presyncope (n=7, 5%), dyspnea (n=18, 13%), chest pain (n=16, 12%), and palpitation (n=2, 1%). In addition, SUD persons had symptoms such as seizures (n=25, 18%) and fatigue (n=44, 32%) prior to death.
In 61 (45%) SUD persons no previous medical history was described. Psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia and depression) were the most common previous known disease (n=39, 29%) followed by asthma bronchiale (n=24, 18%) and epilepsy (n=10, 7%). A large proportion of SUD persons died during sleep (n=62, 46%) or was awake and relaxed (n=54, 40%). A total of 13 (10%) died during moderate to high intensity activity including sport.
Conclusion: In this first nationwide study of SUD among young persons we found that 37% had cardiac symptoms prior to death. The most common cardiac symptom before death was syncope (13% of all SUD) but only one out of five had contacted health care prior to death with cardiac symptoms.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.