The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has termed young people suddenly dying as SADS and is trying to find out why it happens.
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People under the age of 40 should have their hearts tested because they could be at risk of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.
The syndrome, known as SADS, has claimed the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of whether they live a fit and healthy lifestyle.
According to The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, SADS is a “umbrella term to describe unexpected deaths in young people,” with the majority of cases happening in those under the age of 40.
When a post-mortem cannot discover a clear cause of death, the term is used.
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According to the SADS Foundation in the United States, one of the top two warning signals is present in more than half of the 4,000 yearly SADS deaths of children, teenagers, and young adults.
A family history of SADS diagnosis or sudden inexplicable death of a family member, as well as fainting or seizure after exercise, or when stimulated or startled, are among the warning indicators, according to news.com.au.
Catherine Keane, a 31-year-old lady who lived with two friends in Dublin, died in her sleep last year.
“They were all working from home, so no one really paid attention when Catherine didn’t come down for breakfast,” her mother Margherita Cummins told the Irish Mirror.
“They sent her a text at 11.20am and when she didn’t reply, they checked her room and found she had passed.
“Her friend heard a noise in her room at 3.56am and believes now that is when she died.”
Ms Cummins claimed that her daughter “went to the gym every day and walked 10,000 steps.”
“I take some comfort in that she went in her sleep and knew no pain and I’m grateful for that. I always worried about the kids driving in the car but never saw this coming. I never thought I’d ever lose a child in my life,”
The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne is working on creating the country’s first SADS registry.
“There are approximately 750 cases per year of people aged under 50 in Victoria suddenly having their heart stop (cardiac arrest),” a spokesperson said.
“Of these, approximately 100 young people per year will have no cause found even after extensive investigations such as a full autopsy (SADS phenomenon).”
Cardiologist and researcher Dr Elizabeth Paratz said: “Baker’s registry was the first in the country and one of only a few in the world that combined ambulance, hospital and forensics information.”
“(It allows you to see) people have had the cardiac arrest and no cause was found on the back end,” Dr Paratz said.
She thinks the lack of awareness stems from the fact that “a lot of it takes place outside of traditional medical settings.”
“The majority of these SADS events, 90 per cent, occur outside the hospital – the person doesn’t make it – so it’s actually ambulance staff and forensics caring for the bulk of these patients,” Dr Paratz said.
“I think even doctors underestimate it. We only see the 10 per cent who survive and make it to hospital. We only see the tip of the iceberg ourselves.”
For family and friends of victims, SADS is a ‘very hard entity to grasp’ because it’s a ‘diagnosis of nothing’, Dr Paratz added.
From a public health standpoint, Dr. Paratz remarked that preventing SADS was “not as easy as everyone in Australia getting genetically screened,” because scientists were still unsure “what genes cause this.”
“The best advice would be, if you yourself have had a first-degree relative – a parent, sibling, child – who’s had an unexplained death, it’s extremely recommended you see a cardiologist,” she said.