What You Need to Know About Sudden Cardiac Death  


We do not question why ordinary people die suddenly especially if we know they live an unhealthy life. However, we wonder why sportsmen who appear to be healthy and fit die suddenly. Sportsmen or not, people can experience sudden death thru cardiac arrest. The deaths are unexpected and swift. We can never be prepared.


These people suffer Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD). We have to know that there are at least 1,000 Singaporeans who die from SCD every year. This is according to the 2003 study performed by National Heart Centre Singapore in partnership with Health Sciences Authority. The study emphasized that half of 1,000 are below 60 years old and 91% of these are males.

SCD is caused by an irregularity in our heart’s rhythm known as arrhythmia. SCD disturbs the normal pumping of the blood. SCD is different from heart attack. Heart attack happens when the blood supply of the heart is cut-off while SCD happens when there are electrical issues in the heart. When there are electrical issues, there is something wrong with the heart’s ‘electric circuitry’. This phenomena can cause the heartbeat to be irregular (whether slow or fast). The most common irregularity is the beating of the heart too fast – this is called ventricular fibrillation.

Arrhythmia is life threatening and it is linked to other heart conditions like:


  • Coronary artery disease: The study found out that 81% of SCD are caused by coronary artery disease. This disease is known as the toughening and contraction of arteries that supply the heart.
  • Electrical disorders of the heart: An electrical disorder of the heart is characterized by ‘electrical short-circuiting’ of the heart which can lead to rapid heartbeat.
  • Heart attack: The study also revealed that 75% of SCD patients show evidence of preceding heart attacks.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy the irregular coagulating of the heart muscle which will lead to ventricular fibrillation. This happens if the patient exertions.

Though SCD is sudden and we might know it until it hits us, we have to be careful. We can do something to lessen our risks or chances of getting this specific condition. We have to know the risk factors for SCD. Some risk factors include family history of heart diseases, recurring chest pain, frequent fainting spells, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes and too much alcohol consumption.

Being healthy is something that we can do to lessen our risks of SCD. It is not too late to consider this and we should share this to everyone we know.

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