Role of genetic heart disease in sentinel sudden cardiac arrest survivors across the age spectrum

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18 Scopus citations


Background: Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) may be the sentinel expression of a sudden cardiac death-predisposing genetic heart disease (GHD). Although shown to underlie many unexplained SCAs in the young, the contribution of GHDs to sentinel SCA has never been quantified across the age spectrum. Thus, we sought to determine the contribution of GHDs in single-center referral cohort of non-ischemic SCA survivors. Methods and results: Retrospective analysis of 3037 patients was used to identify all individuals who experienced a sentinel event of SCA. Following exclusion of patients with ischemic or complex congenital heart disease, cases were classified by clinical diagnoses. Overall, 180 (5.9%) referral patients experienced a sentinel SCA (average age at SCA 28 ± 15 years, 99 females). An etiology was identified in 113/180 patients (62.8%) including channelopathies in 26.7%, arrhythmogenic bileaflet mitral valve prolapse in 10.6%, cardiomyopathies in 9.4%, other etiologies in 6.7%, acquired long QT syndrome in 6.7%, and multiple disorders in 2.8%. The remaining 67/180 (37.2%) cases were classified as idiopathic ventricular fibrillation (IVF). Interestingly, the contribution of GHDs declined precipitously after the first decade of life [90.0% (age 0–9; n = 20), 58.7% (age 10–19; n = 46), 28.1% (age 20–29; n = 32), 23.8% (age 30–39; n = 42), 16.7% (age 40–49; n = 24), and 12.5% (age 50+; n = 16)]. Conclusions: Within a referral population enriched for GHDs, the ability of a comprehensive cardiac evaluation, including genetic testing, to elucidate a root cause in non-ischemic SCA survivors declined with age. Although rare, GHDs can underlie SCA into adulthood and merit consideration across the age spectrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-220
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Arrhythmia
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Genetic testing
  • Genetics
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Sudden cardiac death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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