Sudden death from cardiovascular causes will claim some 400,000 lives in this country during 1980.
By definition of the World Health Organization, these are deaths occurring unexpectedly within six hours of symptom onset in apparently previously healthy persons or in patients considered to be in satisfactory condition. Such sudden deaths—some of which are being averted by increasing public use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques, improved emergency-rescue systems, and sophisticated coronary care facilities— probably will account for about 40% of the expected overall toll from cardiovascular diseases in the United States this year.
In turn, cardiovascular mortality accounts for 52% of all deaths among Americans annually. So it is clear, say cardiologists such as G. Charles Oliver, MD, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, that sudden death is a leading cause of mortality in this country. It also is a major problem in other countries, including the Soviet Union. According to