Sudden cardiac death in the young

Christopher Semsarian and Barry J Maron
Med J Aust 2002; 176 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2002.tb04342.x
Published online: 18 February 2002

Few events are harder to deal with than sudden death in young people. Each year in the United States, about one in 200 000 high school or college athletes will die suddenly, the vast majority without any prior symptoms,1 and these devastating events are often the first clinical manifestation of an underlying cardiovascular disorder. Indeed, about 90% of sudden deaths, defined as death occurring within one hour of the onset of symptoms, are found to be caused by cardiac structural pathology in autopsy-based series. The remaining 10% relate to other cardiac electrical disorders, such as long-QT syndrome and Wolf–Parkinson–White syndrome, or commotio cordis (the result of sudden sharp chest blows), as well as complications of asthma, substance misuse, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).2

  • 1 Centenary Institute, Newtown, NSW.
  • 2 Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Minneapolis, MN.


Christopher Semsarian is supported by a National Heart Foundation of Australia fellowship.

Competing interests:

None declared.

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