IMR Press / RCM / Volume 22 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.31083/j.rcm.2021.01.207
Open Access Review
Sudden cardiac death: epidemiology, pathogenesis and management
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1 Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
2 Department of Medicine, University of Milan, 21022 Milano, Italy
3 Department of Neurology, Mahatma Gandhi Mission Hospital, 400703 New Mumbai, India
4 Department of Anesthesiology, Government Medical College, 143001 Amritsar, India
5 Department of Internal Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA
6 Department of Internal Medicine, Central Michigan University, Mt Pleasant, MI 48859, USA
7 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Texas Health Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA
8 Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA

Academic Editor: Peter A. McCullough

Rev. Cardiovasc. Med. 2021, 22(1), 147–158;
Submitted: 11 October 2020 | Revised: 23 February 2021 | Accepted: 23 February 2021 | Published: 30 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sudden cardiac death)
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

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).

Sudden cardiac death
Sudden cardiac arrest
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Transvenous and subcutaneous implantable cardioverter devices
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
Fig. 1.
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