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Sudden cardiac death subject of sweeping UCSF study in San Francisco
Date:6/15/2011

t and thickness of heart walls, as well as the presence of other conditions including diseases of the heart valves. Information from autopsies previously performed by the Medical Examiner's Office on individuals who died from causes not related to the heart, such as falls or car accidents, will be compared against the SCD data.

The World Health Association defines SCD as collapse within one hour of symptom onset, if witnessed, or last seen alive 24 hours before collapse, if not witnessed. Tseng hypothesized that the very definition of sudden cardiac death is inaccurate, allowing deaths from unknown causes such as hemorrhage, vascular aneurysm or stroke to be lumped into the sudden-death category by physicians filling out death certificates.

Knowing the actual cause of death is critical, say researchers, because medical responses such as defibrillators can help prevent SCD for someone prone to cardiac arrhythmias, but will not help a patient with, say, a heart valve malfunction.

"Until we know what we're dealing with, we can't apply our treatments properly," Tseng said. The team also hopes that the SCD research effort will encourage community physicians to order autopsies when faced with possible SCD cases only then will answers about the little-known disease come to light.


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Contact: Jeffrey Norris
jeff.norris@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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