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Study: Risk of sudden cardiac death in men is twice as high
The risk of sudden cardiac death in men is at least twice that in women. This is shown by a new study from the USA, which examined the lifetime risk for the so-called "second heart death".
Seconds to death in people who were healthy
The term "second heart death" (or second death or sudden cardiac death) describes the sudden occurrence of fatal cardiac arrhythmias, often in people who were actually healthy according to their own and external perception. It has long been known that sudden cardiac death is more common in athletes than in non-athletes. Sudden cardiac death in sports is known even in children.
Risk factors for sudden cardiac death
It is already known that sudden cardiac arrest in older people is mostly the result of a heart attack with massive cardiac arrhythmias, while younger patients are often the cause of second deaths that affect the heart muscle.
Scientists at Charité in Berlin recently reported on a large-scale international study that could lead to a new risk assessment of sudden cardiac death. According to the information, meaningful risk factors are to be identified with the help of "genetic tests, blood tests and modern imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)".
Lifetime risk examined
US researchers have now examined the lifetime risk of second death for the first time. To do this, they evaluated the long-term data of patients who had previously participated in the large-scale Framingham Heart Study (FHS). The scientists had identified common risk factors (blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking and diabetes), as well as comparing men and women. The study results were published in the "Journal of the American Heart Association".
Danger to men twice as high
The researchers analyzed the data of 2,785 women and 2,294 men who had their initial examination for participation in the FHS between 1948 and 2001 and for whom no signs of previous cardiovascular disease were present. As expected, the lifetime risk of sudden cardiac death for all study participants increased with the number of risk factors. In each of the age groups analyzed (45, 55, 65 and 75 years), men with two or more risk factors had a risk of at least twelve percent.
Blood pressure is crucial
About every eighth man was affected. The majority of deaths occurred before the age of 70. In contrast, women had a significantly lower lifetime risk of sudden cardiac death. At up to six percent, it was only about half as high. Blood pressure proved to be crucial for the lifetime risk for both genders and all age groups. The highest lifetime risk of sudden cardiac death was 16.3 percent among men in the 45-year-old group, whose blood pressure levels were above 160/100 mmHg.
Often without warning
Sudden cardiac death usually occurs without warning. But in some patients the event announces itself. For example, chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath or dizziness can indicate imminent death. Such symptoms can appear a few hours before the event, sometimes days to weeks beforehand. The direct trigger for sudden cardiac death is usually ventricular fibrillation.
Prevent sudden cardiac death
To protect themselves, people who suffer from coronary artery disease (CHD), for example, should specifically combat the cause. In addition to taking medication, a lot can be achieved through a healthier lifestyle. Experts recommend that you stop smoking, consume only small amounts of alcohol and eat a balanced diet. Patients with diabetes or high blood pressure are recommended to treat their diseases. In addition, regular exercise is considered one of the best ways to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. However, excessive exercise should be avoided. (ad)