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Filmmaker John Hughes' Recent Untimely Death is a Call for Better Understanding ,of Sudden Cardiac Death, the Leading Cause of Natural Death in the U.S.
Date:9/15/2009

ith as many as 300,000 reported cases annually, SCD is the leading cause of natural death in the U.S. Swift, unexpected, and often occurring in previously asymptomatic individuals, SCD generally results in death within six minutes in the absence of appropriate medical attention. Even with such prompt emergency medical attention, only five percent of SCD victims survive. Contrary to common perception, SCD is not the same as a heart attack.

As Dr. Weiss explained in a NPR-affiliate station radio interview following Tim Russert's death from SCD last year. "A heart attack is considered a cardiac 'plumbing' problem wherein part of the heart muscle’s blood supply is interrupted, resulting in its loss. Typically a heart attack is not immediately fatal in and of itself. An event of SCD is the result of a fatal arrhythmic event, which is now theorized to be the result of a breakdown of the normal neurological communication between the heart and the brain."

According to current statistics, approximately 12 million U.S. cardiac patients meet the criteria for being at an elevated risk of SCD and, as a result, are able to receive an ICD as a preventative measure.

Dr. Weiss continued, "Unfortunately, ICDs aren't protecting those who could benefit from them, as is sadly demonstrated by the deaths of John Hughes, Tim Russert, and other luminaries, including Robert Palmer and Dave Debusschere. Studies show that 76 percent of ICDs implanted using those criteria never fire, suggesting a lack of true need in those patients and resulting in unnecessary ICD implantations with all of the associated health risks and costs (~$75,000/person). Conversely, and perhaps more importantly, only 20-30 percent of those who experience an episode of SCD would meet/have met thecurrent crit
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Filmmaker John Hughes' Recent Untimely Death is a Call for Better Understanding ,of Sudden Cardiac Death, the Leading Cause of Natural Death in the U.S.
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