There could be more to a case of sudden cardiac death. While many assume that its commonest cause is a heart attack, an electro physiologist looks at it differently — a significant number of sudden cardiac death is due to electrical problems of the heart.
This is what caused an 18-year-old student suffer an episode of loss of consciousness at home. He sustained a head injury and bleeding in a fall. While a number of hospitals assessed his brain, doctors at Kauvery Hospital found the reason to be a heart electrical problem.
The boy recently received a Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (S-ICD) to help in regulating his heart and prevent sudden cardiac death. Doctors claimed he was the youngest patient in the country to be fitted with S-ICD instead of a normal ICD.“Heart electrical problems is one of the important causes of sudden death. Sudden cardiac death is a symptom and it is an important aspect that many do not understand. It can be prevented if high risk patients are screened. At least 50% of patients with a problem in the cardiac electrical system die before they come to the hospital,” A.B. Gopalamurugan, senior consultant Interventional Cardiologist and chief of Electrophysiology and Sudden Cardiac Death Prevention Programme (SCDPP), Kauvery Hospital, told reporters on Tuesday.
He pointed out to a recent case in which a young girl collapsed and died while running in her college. “There was no chance that she was at risk of heart attack,” he observed.
After diagnosing the boy with the heart electrical condition, doctors decided that he needed a defibrillator. “We considered his age. The normal device is placed within the blood vessel and heart and puts the patient at risk of infection,” he said.
So, doctors opted for S-ICD. The device was implanted outside chest wall cavity just under the skin. “The advantage is that it leaves the heart and blood vessels untouched. We performed the procedure without entering the vascular system and he required no long-term hospitalisation and does not stand the risk of infection,” he explained.
Persons from families in which there was a sudden death of a 30 or 40-year-old person, those experiencing palpitation, loss of consciousness, poor heart function and previous heart attack should consult a cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Gopalamurugan said.