Sudden cardiac death: epidemiology and risk factors

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2010 Apr;7(4):216-25. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2010.3. Epub 2010 Feb 9.


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is an important public-health problem with multiple etiologies, risk factors, and changing temporal trends. Substantial progress has been made over the past few decades in identifying markers that confer increased SCD risk at the population level. However, the quest for predicting the high-risk individual who could be a candidate for an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, or other therapy, continues. In this article, we review the incidence, temporal trends, and triggers of SCD, and its demographic, clinical, and genetic risk factors. We also discuss the available evidence supporting the use of public-access defibrillators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / etiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / genetics
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / pathology
  • Defibrillators / statistics & numerical data
  • Defibrillators / supply & distribution
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Population Surveillance
  • Racial Groups
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers