Background: Data on sudden cardiac death in Spain in scarce. Mortality rates from sudden cardiac death occurring in six counties of Girona (including urban, industrial, and rural areas) between October 1987 and September 1988 were assessed.
Methods: From a total of 1,573 deaths in residents of the studied area aged between 25 and 74 years, 222 cases with a suggestive diagnosis of sudden cardiac death were selected. Data that confirmed the diagnosis and the time elapsed from the initial clinical symptoms and death were obtained by inquiring physicians who signed the death certificates, relatives or witnesses and by reviewing the hospital records.
Results: Of a total of 137 deaths of cardiac origin, there were 107 cases of sudden cardiac death (which occurred within 24 hours after the onset of symptoms). The mortality rate of sudden death of cardiac origin was 37.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, that was significantly higher among men (67.8 in men and 15.4 in women). The mortality rate showed a statistically significant increase in the older age groups (28.4 per 100,000 inhabitants in the age group of 45-54 years, 69 in the group of 55-64 years, and 129.7 in the group of 65-74 years). Death occurred within the first hour after the onset of symptoms in 59 patients, 17 of whom were admitted to a hospital. Only 35% of the total 107 patients were treated in hospital.
Conclusions: Mortality rate of sudden cardiac death in Girona is low. Few patients dying from sudden cardiac death could have medical care.