HealthDay News – Genetic testing can increase the identification of a possible cause of sudden cardiac death in children and young adults, according to a study published in the June 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Richard D. Bagnall, PhD, from the University of Sydney, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of all cases of sudden cardiac death among children and young adults aged 1 to 35 years in Australia and New Zealand. At least 59 cardiac genes were analyzed in cases that had no cause identified after a comprehensive autopsy.

Researchers identified 490 cases of sudden cardiac death. The annual incidence was 1.3 cases per 100 000 persons; 72% involved males. The highest incidence of sudden cardiac death was seen for those aged 31 to 35 years (3.2 cases per 100 000 persons/year), while the highest incidence of unexplained sudden cardiac death was seen for those aged 16 to 20 years (0.8 cases per 100 000 persons/year). 

Coronary artery disease and inherited cardiomyopathies were the most common explained causes of sudden cardiac death (24% and 16% of cases, respectively). In 27% of unexplained sudden cardiac death in which genetic testing was performed, a clinically relevant cardiac gene mutation was identified.


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“The addition of genetic testing to autopsy investigation substantially increased the identification of a possible cause of sudden cardiac death among children and young adults,” the authors wrote.

Disclosures: Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical, medical technology, and medical device industries.

Reference

Bagnall RD, Weintraub RG, Ingles J, et al. A prospective study of sudden cardiac death among children and young adults. N Engl J Med. 2016;374(25):2441-2452. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1510687.