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Warning Symptoms Can Often Precede Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Cohort Study

Warning symptoms, notably chest pain and dyspnea, occur during the 4 weeks preceding sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in at least half of cases involving middle-aged adults, suggests a new study. The warnings are usually ignored, observe researchers, with few patients phoning 911 in response to what is almost always a fatal event.

The analysis based on the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death (SUD) cohort was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

We always thought that SCD was so unexpected that there wouldn"t be any time to act. So the first surprise was that sudden death may not be as sudden as we thought.

The Oregon SUD study is a large, prospective, community-based study of deceased and surviving patients who had an SCA in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.

The analysis included 839 patients between 35 and 65 years of age with SCA whose prodromal symptoms could be comprehensively assessed.

Of the 839 patients, 430 patients or 51% of the cohort experienced at least one symptom within the 4 weeks preceding their arrest. Men and women experienced prodromal symptoms with equal frequency at 50% vs 53%, respectively.