Signs of ‘sudden’ cardiac death may come weeks before: study

Signs of ‘sudden’ cardiac death may come weeks before: study

Tue, Nov 19 2013

By Ransdell Pierson and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Signs of approaching “sudden” cardiac arrest, an electrical malfunction that stops the heart, usually appear at least a month ahead of time, according to a study of middle-age men in Portland, Oregon. “We’re looking at how to identify the Tim Russerts and Jim Gandolfinis – middle aged men in their 50s who drop dead and we don’t have enough information why,” said Sumeet Chugh, senior author of the study and associate director for genomic cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.Some 360,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur each year in the United States, largely involving middle-aged men, with only 9.5 percent surviving, according to the American Heart Association.

Patients can survive if they are given cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately and their hearts are jolted back into normal rhythm with a defibrillator.

Earlier clinical trials have focused only on symptoms or warnings signs within an hour of such attacks. But Chugh’s study set out to determine whether signs and symptoms occurred as much as a month before sudden cardiac arrests.

Researchers went back and examined medical records of men 35 to 65 years old after they had out-of-hospital attacks. In addition, paramedics reaching the scene of fatal attacks asked family members what signs and symptoms the patient may have had in preceding weeks.

Among 567 men who had “sudden” arrests, researchers determined 53 percent had symptoms beforehand. Among those with symptoms, 56 had chest pain, 13 percent had shortness of breath and 4 percent had dizziness, fainting or palpitations.

About 80 percent of symptoms happened between four weeks and one hour before the cardiac arrest, researchers said. And although most men had coronary artery disease, just half had been tested for it before their attacks.

“The findings were entirely unexpected,” Chugh said. “We never thought more than half of these middle-aged men would have had warning signs so long before their cardiac arrests. Previously we thought most people don’t have symptoms so we can’t do anything about it.”

Chugh said most people who have the same kinds of symptoms don’t go on to have cardiac arrests.

“Even so, they should seek medical care,” he said. “The message here is, if you have these signs or symptoms, please don’t ignore them: seek healthcare.”

Chugh said he and his colleagues are also attempting to identify people at risk by comparing biologies of those that have had sudden cardiac arrests with sample populations in Portland that have never had cardiac arrests.

The new findings, from the 11-year-old “Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study,” were presented on Tuesday at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association being held in Dallas.

The researchers are conducting similar studies among women. The ongoing study is being funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AHA and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: