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Risk Factors

Same as for Coronary Artery Disease

Risk factors for sudden cardiac death are the same as for coronary artery disease. In some cases, sudden cardiac arrest can occur spontaneously without any known risk factors associated with its onset. Young athletes are also at higher risk for sudden cardiac death.

Risk factors include:

  • Family history of coronary artery disease
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Previous episode of cardiac arrest or a family history of cardiac arrest
  • Previous heart attack
  • A personal or family history of other forms of heart disease, including heart rhythm disorders, congenital heart defects, heart failure and cardiomyopathy
  • Age; the risk of sudden cardiac arrest increases with age, especially after age 45 for men and age 55 for women
  • Male gender; men are more likely to suffer sudden cardiac arrest
  • Using illegal drugs, including cocaine or amphetamines
  • Lightning strike or another electrical shock
  • Immersion in cold water

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-8800

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