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Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-related sudden cardiac death in young people in Ontario

Weissler-Snir A, Allan K, Cunningham K, Connelly KA, Lee DS, Spears DA, Rakowski H, Dorian P. Circulation. 2019; 140(21):1706-16. Epub 2019 Oct 21. DOI:

Background — Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is considered a leading cause of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in younger people. The incidence of HCM-related SCD and its relationship to exercise have not been well studied in large comprehensive studies outside of tertiary care settings. This study sought to estimate the incidence of HCM-related SCD and its association with exercise in a large unselected population.

Methods — Using the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario database encompassing all deaths attended by the coroner, we identified all HCM-related SCDs in individuals 10 to 45 years of age between 2005 and 2016 (70 million person-years). Confirmation of HCM was based on typical macroscopic and microscopic features (definite HCM-related SCD). Sudden deaths with a prior clinical diagnosis of HCM but no autopsy were considered probable HCM-related SCDs. Cases with typical features but no myofiber disarray were considered possible HCM. The completeness of data was verified in a subset of patients in the Toronto area with the use of a registry of all emergency medical services–attended cardiac arrests, with an autopsy rate of 94%. To estimate the number of HCM-related aborted cardiac arrests and lives potentially saved by implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, all de novo implantations for secondary prevention and all implantations and appropriate shocks for primary prevention in patients with HCM 10 to 45 years of age, respectively, were identified with the use of a registry containing data on implantable cardioverter-defibrillator implantations from all implanting sites throughout Ontario.

Results — Forty-four, 3, and 6 cases of definite, probable, and possible HCM-related SCDs, respectively, were identified, corresponding to estimated annual incidence rates of 0.31 per 1000 HCM person-years (95% CI, 0.24–0.44) for definite HCM-related SCD, 0.33 per 1000 HCM person-years (95% CI, 0.34–0.62) for definite or probable HCM-related SCD, and 0.39 per 1000 HCM person-years (95% CI, 0.28–0.49) for definite, probable, or possible HCM-related SCD (estimated 140 740 HCM person-years of observation). The estimated annual incidence rate for HCM-related SCD plus aborted cardiac arrest and HCM-related life-threatening arrhythmia (SCD, aborted cardiac arrest, and appropriate implantable cardioverter-defibrillator shocks) was 0.84 per 1000 HCM person-years (95% CI, 0.70–1.0). The majority (70%) of SCDs occurred in previously undiagnosed individuals. Most SCDs occurred during rest (64.8%) or light activity (18.5%).

Conclusions — The incidence of HCM-related SCD in the general population 10 to 45 years of age is substantially lower than previously reported, with most cases occurring in previously undiagnosed individuals. SCDs are infrequently related to exercise.

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