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Rigshospitalet - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Risk factors and causes of sudden noncardiac death: A nationwide cohort study in Denmark

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BACKGROUND: On the performance of an autopsy, sudden deaths may be divided into 2 classifications: (1) sudden cardiac deaths and (2) sudden noncardiac deaths (SNCDs). Families of SNCD victims should not be followed up as a means of searching for cardiac disease.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to report the risk factors and causes of SNCD.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective, nationwide study including all deaths between 2000 and 2006 of individuals aged 1-35 years and all deaths between 2007 and 2009 of individuals aged 1-49 years. Two physicians identified all sudden death cases through review of death certificates. Autopsy reports were collected. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to identify both clinical characteristics and risk factors associated with SNCD.

RESULTS: We identified 1039 autopsied cases of sudden death, of which 286 (28%) were classified as SNCD. The median age in the SNCD death population was 32 years. Increasing age was inversely associated with SNCD (odds ratio [OR] 0.93, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.87-0.98). Female sex, in-hospital location, and the absence of cardiac comorbidities were positively associated with SNCD (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.3-2.3; OR 3.0, 95% CI 2.0-4.4; and OR 4.3, 95% CI 2.5-7.4, respectively). The most common cause of SNCD was pulmonary disease (n = 115 [40%]).

CONCLUSION: Sudden death among individuals aged <50 years was caused by noncardiac diseases in 28% of cases. Risk factors were female sex, age, and the absence of cardiac comorbidities. These data may guide future strategies for the follow-up of family members of nonautopsied sudden death victims, improve risk stratification, and influence public health strategies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHeart rhythm : the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society
Volume12
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)968-74
Number of pages7
ISSN1547-5271
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

ID: 45572167