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Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome: Just the facts

Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome or SADS, causes the heart to stop beating unexpectedly.

What happens with Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome?

Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome is a term used to describe an unexpected and sudden death that is usually thought to be as a result of a heart condition.

It happens when an underlying condition, usually a heart condition, causes someone to have a dangerous abnormal rhythm (arrhythmia) where the heart beats chaotically causing there to be no pulse, resulting in a heart attack.

You can find further information on what to do if you find someone unconscious or are worried that someone is having a heart attack here.

Who is at risk of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome?

Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome can be associated with younger people, children and babies.

It can also be common during activity because the heart is being exerted by exercise or strenuous sport, which will impact on the hearts function and could result in an abnormal heart rhythm.

What can I do and what do I need to look out for?

In some cases, people will experience warning signs without having a cardiac arrest.

Some of the warning signs may include;

  • Chest pain (especially during exercise)
  • Palpitations (fluttering or feeling that your heart is beating faster than normal)
  • Fainting during exercise
  • Dizziness

If you experience any of the warning signs, it’s important to seek advice from a GP to rule out any un-diagnosed conditions.

Tests can also be offered to family members who have lost someone to Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome to see if there are any genetic abnormalities that they may also have. With a diagnosis, it is possible that death from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome can be prevented.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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