Sudden cardiac death: epidemiology, pathogenesis and management

Rev Cardiovasc Med. 2021 Mar 30;22(1):147-158. doi: 10.31083/j.rcm.2021.01.207.


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is an unexpected sudden death due to a heart condition, that occurs within one hour of symptoms onset. SCD is a leading cause of death in western countries, and is responsible for the majority of deaths from cardiovascular disease. Moreover, SCD accounts for mortality in approximately half of all coronary heart disease patients. Nevertheless, the recent advancements made in screening, prevention, treatment, and management of the underlying causes has decreased this number. In this article, we sought to review established and new modes of screening patients at risk for SCD, treatment and prevention of SCD, and the role of new technologies in the field. Further, we delineate the current epidemiologic trends and pathogenesis. In particular, we describe the advancement in molecular autopsy and genetic testing, the role of target temperature management, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and transvenous and subcutaneous implantable cardioverter devices (ICDs).

Keywords: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; Sudden cardiac arrest; Sudden cardiac death; Transvenous and subcutaneous implantable cardioverter devices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac* / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac* / etiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac* / prevention & control
  • Defibrillators, Implantable*
  • Humans