Tags: sudden | cardiac | death | risk

Relatives of SCD Victims at Risk

Wednesday, 05 Dec 2012 10:19 AM


Relatives of young people who die from sudden cardiac death (SCD) have been found to be at far greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease themselves, new research shows.
The study, published online in the European Heart Journal, strongly supports the idea that autopsies should always be performed in cases of sudden unexplained death and that close relatives of SCD victims be screened for heart problems.
"Our results show SCD, or the underlying heart problems, has a large hereditary component, and that relatives, particularly young, first-degree relatives, are at much greater risk of developing heart conditions compared with the general population,” said lead researcher Dr. Mattis Flyvholm Ranthe, a research fellow at the Department of Epidemiology Research of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Family members of young SCD victims should be offered comprehensive and systematic screening, with the focus on the youngest and nearest relatives.”
Ranthe noted most of the cardiovascular conditions that lead to SCD are treatable, if diagnosed in time.
“Our results reinforce the concept of screening as a rational 'tool' to identify such cardiovascular diseases in family members at risk, and thereby possibly prevent future sudden cardiac deaths,” he added. “However, our findings do not suggest blanket screening of, for example, asymptomatic second-degree relatives of SCD victims, although cascade screening might trigger screening of more distant relatives after a [heart disease] finding in a first-degree relative."
For the study, Researchers identified 470 Danish SCD victims, aged 1 to 35 years, between 2000-2006 and followed their first- and second-degree family members for up to 11 years.
They found that relatives who were younger than 35 had a three-fold increased risk of cardiovascular disease, a six-fold increased risk of ischemic heart disease (reduced blood supply to the heart) and more than a 10-fold increased risk of cardiomyopathies (damaged or weakened heart muscle), and ventricular arrhythmias (disturbances in the rhythm of the heartbeat), compared to the general population. For young, first-degree relatives of SCD victims, the risks were even higher: a six-fold increase in ischemic heart disease and a 20-fold increase in cardiomyopathy and ventricular arrhythmia.
SCD is a sudden, unexpected death due to natural unknown or cardiac causes. In young people it is often caused by undiagnosed heart problems that may be hereditary.


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Relatives of people who die from sudden cardiac death have been found to be at greater risk themselves.
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2012-19-05
Wednesday, 05 Dec 2012 10:19 AM
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