Incidence of Sudden Cardiac Death in the European Union

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2022 May 10;79(18):1818-1827. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2022.02.041.


Background: Although sudden cardiac death (SCD) is recognized as a high-priority public health topic, reliable estimates of the incidence of SCD or, more broadly, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), in the population are scarce, especially in the European Union.

Objectives: The study objective was to determine the incidence of SCD and OHCA in the European Union.

Methods: The study examined 4 large (ie, >2 million inhabitants) European population-based prospective registries collecting emergency medical services (EMS)-attended (ie, with attempted resuscitation) OHCA and SCD (OHCA without obvious extracardiac causes) for >5 consecutive years from January 2012 to December 2017 in the Paris region (France), the North Holland region (the Netherlands), the Stockholm region (Sweden), and in all of Denmark.

Results: The average annual incidence of SCD in the 4 registries ranged from 36.8 per 100,000 (95% CI: 23.5-50.1 per 100,000) to 39.7 per 100,000 (95% CI: 32.6-46.8 per 100,000). When extrapolating to each European country and accounting for age and sex, this yields to 249,538 SCD cases per year (95% CI: 155,377-343,719 SCD cases per year). The average annual incidence of OHCA in the 4 registries ranged from 47.8 per 100,000 (95% CI: 21.2-74.4 per 100,000) to 57.9 per 100,000 (95% CI: 19.6-96.3 per 100,000), corresponding to 343,496 OHCA cases per year (95% CI: 216,472-464,922 OHCA cases per year) in the European Union. Incidence rates of SCD and OHCA increased with age and were systematically higher in men compared with women.

Conclusions: By combining data from 4 large, population-based registries with at least 5 years of data collection, this study provided an estimate of the incidence of SCD and OHCA in the European Union.

Keywords: cardiac arrest; incidence rates; registries; sudden cardiac death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • European Union
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / epidemiology
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries