Sad reason healthy woman died in her sleep

The heartbroken mother of a fit and healthy 31-year-old who died suddenly in her sleep has made an urgent plea to young people.

Young people with certain family histories are urged to have their hearts screened, even if they are fit and healthy, because they are at risk for Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, or Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), is an “umbrella term to describe unexpected deaths in young people,” usually under the age of 40, when an autopsy cannot find a clear cause of death, according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

While no national figures are available, Melbourne’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute is developing the country’s first SADS registry, which it hopes to eventually roll out nationwide.

“In our registry, there are about 750 cases per year of people under the age of 50 in Victoria who suddenly have their heart stopped (cardiac arrest),” a spokeswoman said. “In about 100 young people per year, no cause can be found, even after extensive research such as a full autopsy (the SADS phenomenon).”

Cardiologist and researcher Dr. Elizabeth Paratz said Baker’s register was the first in Australia and one of the few in the world to combine ambulance, hospital and forensic information.

“(You can see) people have had cardiac arrest and no cause has been found in the back,” she said.

dr. Paratz said the lack of awareness around the issue was likely because “a lot of it takes place outside of traditional medical settings.”

“The majority of these SADS events, 90 percent, take place outside the hospital — the person doesn’t make it — so it’s basically EMS personnel and forensics that take care of the bulk of these patients,” she said.

“I think even doctors underestimate it. We only see the 10 percent who survive and make it to the hospital. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

For victims’ families and friends, SADS is a “very hard-to-understand entity” because it is a “diagnosis of nothing”.

“All you know is it wasn’t drugs, suicide, trauma or heart attack,” said Dr. paratz. “You still wonder what it was.”

She stressed that the terms “heart attack” and “cardiac arrest” were often confused.

A heart attack refers to a blockage of the heart vessel while a cardiac arrest means that the heart has stopped.

“If someone has a heart attack and you do an autopsy, you might see a big clot, that’s a positive finding, but if someone has had one of these SADS events, the heart is pristine,” she said. “It’s really hard to know what to do.”

Last month, the heartbroken mother of a young Irish advertising executive who died in her sleep urged parents to have their children screened for SADS if there was a family history of heart disease.

Catherine Keane, 31, was found dead by her roommates last year.

“She lived with two friends in Rathmines in Dublin and they all worked from home so no one really paid attention when she didn’t come for breakfast,” Margherita Cummins told the irish mirror

“They texted her at 11:20am and when she didn’t answer, they checked her room and found she passed. Her friend heard a noise in her room at 3:56 am and thinks she died then.”

Ms Cummins said her daughter “went to the gym and walked 10,000 steps every day”.

“She used to call me while out for a walk and just talk for the duration,” she said.

“I take comfort in the fact that she went to sleep and knew no pain and I am grateful for that. I was always worried about the kids riding in the car, but never saw this coming. I never thought I would ever lose a child in my life.”

In February, another mother told of her teenage son’s death from SADS in 2021.

Liam Doherty, 19, from Cranford, Ireland, passed away last aprilleaving his family heartbroken.

“Nothing could have prepared us for what happened on that day of April 2 or what might lay ahead of us,” his mother Adele Doherty wrote on a statement. fundraising page for the Mater Hospital Foundation.

“This became our journey to many unknown waters, getting to know the depths of SADS, trying to understand and process everything.”

In another tragic case, a new bride was found dead by her mother-in-law in a British tanning salon last month.

New Zealander Piata Tawhare30, reportedly collapsed shortly after starting an 11-minute tanning session at Lextan in South Wales.

She was suspected of having SADS, as she fell to the floor in the upright tanning bed where she reportedly lay undiscovered for nearly two hours.

“Piata was the most amazing, most beautiful person in the world. She lit up my life and made me a better person,” her husband Ifan Jones, 23, told The sun

“We had so many plans and so many things we wanted to do with our lives. Our hearts are broken without her and she died in the most horrible and tragic way. The fact that she lay undiscovered for almost two hours breaks my heart.”

The US-based SADS . Foundation says it’s “genetic heart disease that can cause sudden death in young, apparently healthy people.”

The most common SADS conditions include genetic arrhythmia syndromes such as long QT syndrome, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), and Brugada syndrome, according to the RACGP

“SADS disorders occur because the heart’s electrical system is not working properly, so the heart beats with an abnormal rhythm,” says the SADS Foundation. “These conditions can be treated and deaths prevented.”

In the US, approximately 210,000 people die suddenly and unexpectedly each year from sudden cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association.

The SADS Foundation says that more than half of the 4,000 SADS deaths per year of children, teenagers or young adults have one of the two main warning signs. Those are a family history of a SADS diagnosis or sudden unexplained death of a family member, and fainting or seizures during exercise, or when excited or startled.

dr. From a public health perspective, Paratz said fighting SADS “wasn’t as easy as getting everyone in Australia genetically screened” as scientists still weren’t 100 percent clear on “which genes are causing this.”

“The best advice would be, if you yourself have had a first-degree relative — a parent, sibling, child — who has had an unexplained death, it is highly recommended that you see a cardiologist,” she said.

“Someone else, (see a cardiologist) if you have heart symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or if you can’t keep up with your friends who are exercising or walking.”

Cardiology researchers have previously suggested that the complex effects of pandemic lockdowns would likely lead to more deaths from heart disease – a phenomenon dubbed “post-pandemic stress disorder” by psychologists in the UK.

Post-pandemic stress disorder is not an officially recognized mental illness.

Coronary artery disease is Australia’s biggest killer, good for 17,731 dead in 2019, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Health experts have recently urged more Australians to get their hearts checkedfollowing a spate of high profile deaths including cricket icon Shane Warne and Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching.

Meanwhile, health charity Hearts4Heart urges Aussies to “be smart about their hearts” ahead of Heart Failure Awareness Week from June 27 to July 3.

“Despite the name, heart failure doesn’t mean the heart stops or fails, it means the heart can’t keep up with the demands of the body anymore,” the group says.

“Heart failure affects 500,000 Australians and claims about 61,000 lives each year – that’s about one person dying from heart failure every three hours, eight deaths a day.”

frank.chung@news.com.au

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