Causes of sudden unexpected cardiac death in the first two decades of life

Am J Cardiol. 1996 May 1;77(11):992-5. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(96)00035-5.


Sudden, unexpected cardiac death in the age group 1 to 21 years usually is due to myocarditis, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, aortic valvar stenosis, and coronary arterial abnormalities. The hearts of 70 patients <21 years of age who died suddenly were reviewed. Twenty patients were <1 year of age and 50 were 1 to 21 years old. The cardiac findings were compared with those in 68 age-matched controls with known cardiac disease who did not die suddenly. Significant cardiac abnormalities were present in 13 (65%) of the 20 infants; 10 (50%) had anomalies of the aortic origin of the coronary arteries. Among the 50 older patients, cardiac abnormalities were found in 40 (80%), among whom coronary arterial anomalies existed in 12 (24%). Anomalies of aortic origin more frequently involved the left main than the right coronary artery in both groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cause of Death*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / pathology
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies