sudden death

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An unexpected death, not caused by physical trauma, that occurs instantaneously or within minutes of an event that changes the clinical status of an individual. Exertional sudden death occurs during a medically unsupervised activity or within 1 h after completion of the activity. Cardiac abnormalities (especially hypertrophic cardiomyopathy an abnormal enlargement of the ventricular septum of the heart) are the most common causes of exertional sudden death in people under 35 years of age; coronary artery disease is the most common cause for those over 35 years of age. The overall incidence of death during athletic activity has been estimated as a rate of 0.003 to 0.006 per year. Although sudden death is more likely during exercise than at rest, those who do not exercise regularly have the greatest risk of death during exercise and at rest.

Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.

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