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Sudden Death: Definition, Causes, PowerPoint-Note slide

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What is Sudden Death?

Death is said to be sudden & unexpected when a person not known to have been suffering from any kind of life threatening or dangerous diseases, trauma or injury, or poisoning is found to die or dies within 24 hours after the onset of the terminal symptoms. 

 

Causes of sudden Death

  • The cardiovascular system causes: 50%
  • The respiratory system causes: 15-23%
  • Central Nervous system causes: 10-18%
  • The gastrointestinal system causes: 6-8%
  • The genito-urinary system causes: 3-5%
  • Miscellaneous: 5-10%

Cardiovascular System Causes

It is the most common cause of sudden death worldwide and there are the following common conditions or diseases;

  • Coronary artery atherosclerosis
  • Valvular heart disease – stenosis & insufficiency of mitral & aortic valves
  • Congenital heart disease – atrial & ventricular septal defect, coarctation of the aorta
  • Hypertensive heart disease
  • Acute pericarditis, myocarditis, & endocarditis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Rupture of aortic aneurysm
  • Infective endocarditis

Respiratory System Causes

It is the second most common cause of sudden death worldwide and there are the following common conditions or diseases;

  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Lobar pneumonia/bronchopneumonia
  • Massive haemoptysis – in pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Acute oedema of glottis/lungs
  • Pulmonary oedema
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pneumothorax
  • Lung abscess
  • Pulmonary neoplasm
  • Foreign body infection

Central Nervous System Causes

  • Intracranial haemorrhage- cerebral, cerebellar, pontine, subarachnoid
  • Cerebral thrombosis & embolism
  • Meningitis
  • Acute polyencephalytis
  • Brain tumour & abscess
  • Idiopathic epilepsy
  • Carotid artery thrombosis

Gastrointestinal Causes

  • Haemorrhage & perforation of stomach & intestine from peptic ulcer, oesophageal varices, malignancy
  • Strangulated hernia
  • Acute appendicitis
  • Paralytic ileus
  • Rupture of liver abscess
  • Acute haemorrhagic pancreatitis
  • Intestinal obstruction

Genitourinary Causes

  • Chronic nephritis
  • Nephrolithiasis
  • Rupture of tubal pregnancy
  • Tuberculosis of kidney
  • Uterine haemorrhage
  • Twisting of ovarian cyst
  • Obstructive hydro & pyonephrosis

Miscellaneous Causes

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Mismatched blood transfusion
  • Haemochromatosis
  • Blood dyscrasias
  • Cerebral malaria – malignant malaria
  • Reflex vagal inhibition
  • Shock due to emotional excitement
  • Hyperthyroidism

Age-wise sudden death

  1. In infants – congenital
  2. In children, adolescents and young adults
    • Cardiomyopathies
    • Myocarditis
    • Coronary artery anomalies
  3. In adults
    • Coronary insufficiency caused by coronary artery disease
    • Valvular diseases
    • Myocardial diseases
    • A disease of the conduction system

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