Incidence, risk assessment and prevention of sudden cardiac death in cardiomyopathies

Eur J Heart Fail. 2023 Dec;25(12):2144-2163. doi: 10.1002/ejhf.3076. Epub 2023 Nov 14.


Cardiomyopathies are a significant contributor to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, mainly due to the development of heart failure and increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Despite improvement in survival with contemporary treatment, SCD remains an important cause of mortality in cardiomyopathies. It occurs at a rate ranging between 0.15% and 0.7% per year (depending on the cardiomyopathy), which significantly surpasses SCD incidence in the age- and sex-matched general population. The risk of SCD is affected by multiple factors including the aetiology, genetic basis, age, sex, physical exertion, the extent of myocardial disease severity, conduction system abnormalities, and electrical instability, as measured by various metrics. Over the past decades, the knowledge on the mechanisms and risk factors for SCD has substantially improved, allowing for a better-informed risk stratification. However, unresolved issues still challenge the guidance of SCD prevention in patients with cardiomyopathies. In this review, we aim to provide an in-depth discussion of the contemporary concepts pertinent to understanding the burden, risk assessment and prevention of SCD in cardiomyopathies (dilated, non-dilated left ventricular, hypertrophic, arrhythmogenic right ventricular, and restrictive). The review first focuses on SCD incidence in cardiomyopathies and then summarizes established and emerging risk factors for life-threatening arrhythmias/SCD. Finally, it discusses validated approaches to the risk assessment and evidence-based measures for SCD prevention in cardiomyopathies, pointing to the gaps in evidence and areas of uncertainties that merit future clarification.

Keywords: Arrhythmia; Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Dilated cardiomyopathy; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Incidence; Non-dilated left ventricular cardiomyopathy; Primary prevention; Restrictive cardiomyopathy; Risk stratification; Sudden cardiac death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / complications
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathies* / complications
  • Cardiomyopathies* / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control
  • Heart Failure* / complications
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / complications
  • Incidence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors