Approximately 300,000 to 450,000 sudden deaths occur annually in the US, and another 400,000 occur annually in western Europe. Overall, sudden death accounts for approximately 1 out of every 6 deaths due to natural causes. Furthermore, approximately 90% of sudden deaths are cardiac in origin, and the vast majority are due to ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation. Population studies have estimated the incidence of fatal ventricular arrhythmias in the general population to be 54 per 100,000 people; this risk increases with age, with the presence of risk factors for coronary artery disease, and with the presence of structural heart disease, such as left ventricular dysfunction or scar from prior myocardial infarction. Some studies suggest that women have a lower incidence of sudden cardiac death compared to men and are less likely to have spontaneous or inducible VT. However, women have longer QT intervals than men and are more likely to manifest torsades de pointes (whether drug-induced or due to congenital long QT syndrome) than men.
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