Sudden death syndrome, Can it be prevented?

berlin-madre-hijoThe sudden and unexpected loss of heart function is known as sudden death syndrome. Whilst always a tragic event, in the case of the very young it is especially devastating.

A distinction should be made between sudden death triggered by exercise, and sudden death syndrome in infants aged less than one year old. Although the two are rare, we always ask ourselves: How can this have happened to someone who was previously healthy? Could I have done something to prevent it? And in both cases, there are some prevention strategies.

To avoid sudden infant death syndrome, the best recommendation is to put babies to sleep on a firm mattress and avoid letting them sleep on their front. They should have a relatively cool sleeping environment and mothers should avoid smoking during and after pregnancy, they should offer breastfeeding, etc.

For athletes, the leading cause of sudden death is cardiac arrest, and the risk of this can often be detected beforehand. Electrocardiograms and echocardiography, in conjunction with the clinical history, are very effective at detecting many of the risk factors. Should any be found, further tests such as MRI, Holter monitoring or genetic studies are performed.

However, there will always be a significant percentage that we cannot detect, so it is advisable to learn how to perform basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to try to save those cases of sudden death to which we are witnesses.

Published on 9th november 2013 in Diario Información of Alicante