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What is SADS? Sudden death in young people from mysterious syndrome

People under the age of 40 are encouraged to have their hearts checked to avoid Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). Regardless of whether or not they maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle, people of all ages have been killed by the syndrome known as SADS.

What is SADS? Who is at risk?

SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome) refers to a variety of cardiac arrhythmia disorders which are often genetic and can be responsible for sudden death in young, apparently healthy people.

According to doctors, people under 40 should have their hearts checked regardless of how healthy their lifestyle is. There is a high incidence of SADS among young, healthy, and active individuals.

How can sudden cardiac death be prevented?

Recognition of “The Warning Signs” and early medical intervention are the keys to preventing sudden cardiac death in children and young adults.

The warning signs

These symptoms are not conclusive in and by themselves but the presentation of any one symptom requires an immediate cardiac evaluation.

Fainting (syncope) or seizure during physical activity.

Fainting (syncope) or seizure resulting from emotional excitement, emotional distress, or startle.

Family history of unexpected sudden death during physical activity or during a seizure, or any other unexplained sudden death of an otherwise healthy young person.

How common is sudden cardiac death in young people?

A majority of sudden cardiac deaths occur in older adults, particularly those with heart disease. However, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among young people. 1 in 5 heart attack patients is younger than 40 years of age, also, having a heart attack in your 20s or early 30s is more common.

What is SADS? Sudden death in young people from mysterious syndrome

What can cause sudden cardiac death in young people?

A faulty electrical signal in the heart is often responsible for sudden cardiac death. During a very fast heartbeat, the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) quiver uselessly rather than pumping blood. The irregular heart rhythm is termed ventricular fibrillation.

There are several conditions that can increase the risk of sudden death, including those listed below:

Thickened heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy).

Heart rhythm disorders.

Blunt chest injury Heart structure problem present at birth (congenital heart defect).

How do they test for inherited heart conditions?

An inherited heart condition is usually tested for with a genetic test. A genetic test is usually done with a simple blood test. It can also be carried out on a sample of hair, skin or bodily tissue.

Genetic tests can find genetic faults. A fault could mean you are at risk of developing the same inherited heart condition that your family member has.

If someone has a heart condition or has died from SADS, the immediate family (their parents, siblings and children) might be referred for genetic tests. The tests are normally done in an inherited heart condition clinic at a hospital or genetics centre.

During your appointment, you might also be asked about your health, family history and if you have any symptoms. It’s helpful to bring information about any family members who have passed away unexpectedly or have been diagnosed with heart and circulatory diseases.

What’s the difference between sudden cardiac death and SADS?

Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (or SADS) is diagnosed when the cause of death can’t be explained in a post-mortem examination because the structure of the heart appears normal.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is when the cause of death can be found in a post-mortem examination because something is wrong with the structure of the heart. Such as, partially or fully blocked arteries after a heart attack.

On A Final Note…

Sudden cardiac death in a seemingly healthy individual under 35 is extremely rare. The condition is more prevalent in males than in females. Although sudden death in young people is rare, precautions should be taken by those at risk.

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