Sunday, December 03, 2006

Watch that temper. Sudden cardiac death

One of the common cause of cardiac death is sudden cardiac death (SCD), defined as death within 24hrs of developing symptoms. These are the deaths reported as sudden collapses in golf courses, while driving, while having sex, people found slumped in cars (if no foul play suspected). In some ways, especially for senior citizens, such a mode of death if what we all wish for. No suffering. Just go suddenly and peacefully.

Medical science has spent much time and effort studying this phenomenon, obviously so that we can find a way of preventing them and treating them. We needed to know the triggers of SCD. Remember, there was a time when scientists (including one of our own Malaysian - Dr Reggis de Silva), were studying the Voodoo behaviour and how it cause people to collapse and die suddenly. How does Voodoo kill?

Well, we do know that patients with poor heart systolic function, are prone to sudden cardiac death. These are the patients who receive antomatic implantable cardiac defibrillator (AICD). These are pacemakers implanted in the heart, that can detect ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation, and deliver a program defib. shock to terminate the arrhythmia.

The just ended AHA annual scientific meeting in Chicago had a paper presented from Harvard, Boston, which studied the triggers for ventricular fibrillation. The investigators studied the records of people with AICD and asked them to record the episodes of defib shocks and recall the events before the shocks (you see the patient can feel the shocks and they hated it. So they are motivated to assist in studies that can help them prevent the need for the shocks). There were 1188 patients under study, and during the period under study, there were 199 episodes of defib. The patients with severe anger and fury had a 16 fold increase in defibs. suggeting that severe anger or anger was an important trigger for Vent. Fib. To be honest, these are patients with poor LV systolic function. Does it apply to us. I am sure that there is some relationship with increase sympathetic tone and Vent.Fib. So the next time you lose your head, be aware, it may stop your heart too.

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