Higher sudden cardiac death risk experienced throughout men’s lives
In contrast, only one out of every 30 women have this high of a risk.
“These numbers should raise a red flag,” Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, senior study author and chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said. “We often screen for conditions that are less common and much less deadly than sudden cardiac death. For instance, the lifetime risk for colon cancer is about one in 21, and for this reason everyone over the age of 50 is told to have a colonoscopy. But by comparison, the lifetime risk of sudden cardiac death for men is one in nine, and yet we’re not really screening for it.”
Associated risk factors for sudden cardiac death include high blood pressure and similar cardiovascular problems. Finding these factors could help researchers better determine who is predisposed for sudden cardiac death.
“Sudden cardiac death has been very hard to study because most patients had no history of heart problems and were not being monitored at the time of their death,” Lloyd-Jones said. “The majority of all cases occur before age 70; this is obviously sudden and devastating for families, with a burden that can be quite severe. Our paper sets the stage for thinking about how we can screen the population effectively to find out who’s at risk.”
This is the first time that a study has given lifetime estimates for Americans experiencing sudden cardiac death.