July 05, 2016
2 min read

Men at higher risk for death from sudden cardiac arrest than women

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Men appear much more likely than women to experience death due to sudden cardiac arrest, according to study findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The research showed that approximately one in nine men face this risk as opposed to one in 30 women.

“These numbers should raise a red flag,” Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a press release. “We often screen for conditions ... that are much less deadly. For instance, the lifetime risk for colon cancer is about one in 21 ... [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. ... Our paper sets the stage for thinking about how we can screen the population effectively to find out who’s at risk.”

Donald Lloyd-Jones

Donald Lloyd-Jones

Researchers analyzed data on 5,209 participants (2,294 men) free from CVD in the Framingham Heart Study aged 28 to 62 years. The cohort was evaluated for four risk factors that previous studies linked to a high risk for CVD: systolic/diastolic BP, total cholesterol, smoking status and diabetes.

The researchers also indexed the cohort according to four age groups (within 5 years of 45 years, within 5 years of 55 years, within 5 years of 65 years and within 5 years of 75 years). Follow-up consisted of 160,396 person-years, during which 375 of participants died due to sudden cardiac arrest. Researchers wrote that the majority of those deaths occurred before individuals were aged 70 years, suggesting that they were preventable.

Data yielded a similar, sex-based lifetime risk for death by sudden cardiac arrest across the four age groups. For men, it ranged from 10.1% to 11.2%, whereas for women, the range was 2.4% to 3.4%. At age 45 years, lifetime risks were 10.9% (95% CI, 9.4-12.5) for men and 2.8% (95% CI, 2.1-3.5) for women.

Lloyd-Jones and colleagues also determined that greater burden of risk factors was associated with higher lifetime risk for sudden cardiac death (P < .05), and that BP was a strong predictor of where an individual might fall on the lifetime risk curve.

“Given that many [sudden cardiac deaths] occur in individuals without past symptoms and occur prematurely, it is imperative for clinicians to consider factors that may increase risk for [sudden cardiac death],” the researchers wrote. – by James Clark

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.