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SADS – Sudden Adult Death Syndrome

"OUF" by Flickr user: kaczmarekvincent

"OUF" by Flickr user: kaczmarekvincent

I was drawn to read this story because of my previous article about video game induced injuries.  Crunchgear report on a story originally reported by the Telegraph about a man dying whilst playing on his Wii fit.

It is being reported that it is believed this man died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.  Crunchgear accurately note that this man might well have died doing any physical activity or perhaps at any time. Therefore this doesn’t entirely link in with my previous article, but once I came across this sad story I thought I would write a little about Sudden Adult Death Syndrome as many people are unaware that it exists.

What is SADS?

SADS or Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, normally refers to an unexpected death due to cardiac arrest that has occurred in an adult that doesn’t involve trauma or violence and who was in apparent good health in the hours leading up to the death. It is also known by the medical profession as Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome, as the cause is due to an abnormal rhythm in the heart. The term relates specifically to young adults and not young children or infants.

There may be a family history of sudden and unexplained death in a young person. While participating in sport isn’t the cause of the death, if the young person has a previously undetected cardiac condition, sporting activities may precipitate or trigger a cardiac event which could cause the person to die suddenly.


Identifying someone who is at risk of SADS is done by performing an electrocardiogram (ECG). Therefore if you are a young person who has ever suffered any of the following symptoms, an ECG is recommended;

  • Chest Pain which is related to exercise
  • Breathlessness
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

This is particularly important if you have had a blood relative who has suffered an unexplained and unexpected death while young. In this situation it is vital that you are referred to a cardiologist to carry out an evaluation of your risk. A ECG can rule out any underlying conditions that could lead to an abnormal rhythm in the heart during exercise.

What can be done?

If you are found to have one of the conditions, your doctor will provide advice on lifestyle choices when you attend the consultation. Some drugs, not only prescribed ones but even those bought over the counter need to be avoided to minimise the risk of an adverse incident in those at risk. In some instances you may be advised to purchase a defibrillator to keep at home; one particular cause of SADS can strike at night during sleep. Your partner can be advised on how to manage in the event of something happening to you. You may also be advised to avoid strenuous exercise, which can be a difficult adjustment to make if you are a very sporty or active individual.

More Information

For further information about SADS visit the following websites:

  • SADS UK – The Ashley Jolly Sudden Adult Death Trust

Grieving the loss of someone to SADS

You may have come across this information because you are grieving the loss of a loved one and are looking for more information about SADS. If that is the case then my thoughts are with you at this time. I have recently seen a book on Amazon about grieving that seems to get very good reviews from those who have read it – I hope that perhaps it can be of some help to you too. It is I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One.


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