Sudden cardiac death in Singapore

Sudden death is usually caused by sudden cardiac arrest, which is a swift and unexpected loss of heart function. Sudden cardiac arrest disrupts the normal pumping of blood throughout the body, and can lead to sudden cardiac death.

“An estimated 1,000 Singaporeans die from sudden cardiac death (SCD) every year,” says Adjunct Associate Professor Ching Chi Keong, Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology and Director, Electrophysiology and Pacing, National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), a member of the SingHealth group.

About half of these people are below the age of 60, according to a 2003 study carried out by the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) in collaboration with the Health Sciences Authority. The study found that about 91 per cent of the people who died from sudden cardiac death were males with a mean age of 46 ± 9 years.

Sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack: What is the difference?

“Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack happens because the heart’s blood supply is cut off, while sudden cardiac arrest is usually caused by electrical issues within the heart,” says Adj Assoc Prof Ching.

Sudden cardiac arrest is usually caused by an abnormality in the heart rhythm, known as arrhythmia.

Risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest

  • Personal or family history of coronary artery disease, cardiac arrest, heart attack, heart rhythm disorders, congenital heart defects, poor heart function and heart failure
  • Recurrent chest pain or fainting spells during physical exertion
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

“A typical patient of sudden cardiac arrest is likely to be male, more than 35 years old and has a family history of early heart attack,” says Adj Assoc Prof Ching.

Ref: R14