Photo: ISTOCKPHOTONocturnal deaths could be caused by structural issues of the heart or rare genetic conditions that disrupt the heartbeat
The death of conductor Adrian Tan from cardiac arrest in his sleep at the age of 44 earlier this month has put the spotlight on such deaths.
While the underlying cause of Tan's death has not been reported, cardiologists tell The Straits Times that such nocturnal deaths could be caused by structural issues of the heart or rare genetic conditions that disrupt the heartbeat.
A cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack. Cardiologists tell ST that a heart attack refers to the death of a portion of the heart muscle when the arteries supplying the heart with blood are choked or occluded. A heart attack can result in cardiac arrest and sudden death.
About half of all heart attack cases present as cardiac arrest, says Assistant Professor Seow Swee Chong, director and senior consultant, cardiac electrophysiology and pacing, department of cardiology at the National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS).
Cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical signals that govern the heartbeat are disrupted, leading to rhythmic disorders. The bottom chambers of the heart may beat very rapidly (known as "ventricular tachycardia") or in rapid, disorganised rhythm (ventricular fibrillation).
As a result, the heart suddenly stops pumping blood effectively to the rest of the body. This can lead to organ damage and organ failure if the heart's normal rhythm is not restored within a few minutes, says Associate Professor Ching Chi Keong, senior consultant, department of cardiology, director of electrophysiology and pacing, at the National Heart Centre Singapore.Click here for the full article.(Link to the original article here.)