The term sudden cardiac death refers to natural death from cardiac causes, heralded by abrupt loss of consciousness within one hour of the onset of acute symptoms.
Other forms of sudden death may be noncardiac in origin. Examples of this include respiratory arrest (such as due to airway obstruction, which may be seen in cases of choking or asphyxiation), toxicity or poisoning, anaphylaxis, or trauma.
It is important to make a distinction between this term and the related term cardiac arrest, which refers to cessation of cardiac pump function which may be reversible. The phrase ''sudden cardiac death'' is a public health concept incorporating the features of ''natural'', ''rapid'', and ''unexpected''. It does not specifically refer to the mechanism or cause of death.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011