Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Death, Sudden

  • Ana Victoria SotoEmail author
  • William Whang
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_1291-2



Death within 1 h of the onset of acute symptoms.


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is an important public health problem, with an annual incidence estimated between 180,000 and 250,000 cases in the United States. The working definition of SCD is death within 1 h of the onset of symptoms, in the absence of preceding evidence of severe pump failure. In prior decades, the majority of SCD cases have been estimated to occur due to rapid cardiac arrhythmia, specifically ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF). More recent data indicate that VT/VF is the presenting rhythm in SCD about 30–40% of the time. SCD may also occur due to life-threatening slow heart rhythms (bradycardia) or due to other causes such as massive pulmonary embolism or intracranial hemorrhage (Hinkle and Thaler 1982; Lloyd-Jones et al. 2010).

In prospective cohort studies, women have a lower incidence of sudden death than men. Coronary artery disease...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Albert, C. M., Chae, C. U., Rexrode, K. M., Manson, J. E., & Kawachi, I. (2005). Phobic anxiety and risk of coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death among women. Circulation, 111(4), 480–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bardy, G. H., Lee, K. L., Mark, D. B., Poole, J. E., Packer, D. L., Boineau, R., et al. (2005). Amiodarone or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator for congestive heart failure. The New England Journal of Medicine, 352(3), 225–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chugh, S. S., Reinier, K., Teodorescu, C., Evanado, A., Kehr, E., Al Samara, M., et al. (2008). Epidemiology of sudden cardiac death: Clinical and research implications. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 51(3), 213–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Empana, J. P., Jouven, X., Lemaitre, R. N., Sotoodehnia, N., Rea, T., Raghunathan, T. E., et al. (2006). Clinical depression and risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166(2), 195–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hinkle, L. E., Jr., & Thaler, J. T. (1982). Clinical classification of cardiac deaths. Circulation, 65, 457–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lloyd-Jones, D., Adams, R. J., Brown, T. M., Carnethon, M., Dai, S., De Simone, G., et al. (2010). Executive summary: Heart disease and stroke statistics-2010 update: A report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 121(7), 948–954.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Luukinen, H., Laippala, P., & Huikuri, H. V. (2003). Depressive symptoms and the risk of sudden cardiac death among the elderly. European Heart Journal, 24(22), 2021–2026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Moss, A. J., Zareba, W., Hall, W. J., Klein, H., Wilber, D. J., Cannom, D. S., et al. (2002). Prophylactic implantation of a defibrillator in patients with myocardial infarction and reduced ejection fraction. The New England Journal of Medicine, 346(12), 877–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Virmani, R., Burke, A. P., & Farb, A. (2001). Sudden cardiac death. Cardiovascular Pathology, 10, 211–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Whang, W., Kubzansky, L. D., Kawachi, I., Rexrode, K. M., Kroenke, C. H., Glynn, R. J., et al. (2009). Depression and risk of sudden cardiac death and coronary heart disease in women: Results from the Nurses’ Health Study. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 53(11), 950–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medicine – Residency ProgramColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Division of CardiologyColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Linda C. Baumann
    • 1
  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA