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Sudden Cardiac Death in Two Young Adult Males, New Risk Factors for Ischaemic Heart Disease



Article By

Roque Gabriel Wiseman Pinto

Preeti Singh

Shanta S. Kudale

Siddhartha S. Banaulikar

Avinash J. Pujari



Abstract :

Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is a group of diseases that include angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, chronic IHD with heart failure, and sudden cardiac death. IHD is the leading cause of death all over the world. Its incidence in young males is ever increasing with well-defined risk factors. We report two young males, aged 22 years and 18 years with sudden cardiac death, most probably due to an acute myocardial infarction, as seen in post-mortem. Two new risk factors were observed in these patients namely (1) The use of steroids and growth hormones in fitness instructors and body builders (2) Polyarteritis Nodosa


Introduction :

Ischemic heart  disease (IHD)  also known  as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) continues to be a major public health problem in the industrialised world and it is becoming an increasingly important problem  in  the  developing countries  as well,[1] India being no exception. It is the leading cause of death worldwide. Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) includes a group of cardiac disorders that cause a reduction in the coronary blood flow. These  cases are on the rise even in young adults. Males are seen to be affected more in comparison to females.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is defined as a sudden, unexpected death due to cardiac causes that occur in a short time period (usually within 1 hour of symptom onset) in a person with known or unknown  cardiac disease. SCD can result from innumerable causes such as myocardial infarction, arrhythmias,  cardiomyopathy,  and  structural/valvular heart disease. In this article, the two case reports describe two young adult males who died of SCD and in whom autopsies were performed. Post-mortem findings and the pathological diagnosis has been described here.



Case Reports :

Case 1 :

A 22-year old male, a Gymnasium  instructor and trainer, presented with acute, severe chest pain. He collapsed and  died  within  30 minutes  after admission. A post mortem was performed .


Pathological Findings :

Cardiovascular system revealed moderate cardiomegaly with left ventricular hypertrophy, areas of congestion on anterior and posterior walls of the left ventricle externally, anterior descending branch of the left coronary artery (LCA) showed complete occlusion by a fresh thrombus and an atheromatous plaque (Figure1). The other branches of both coronaries showed atheromatous changes. Respiratory system revealed moderate congestion and edema of both lungs. Central nervous system revealed mild congestion and edema. Liver was enlarged with moderate congestion. Other organs revealed congestion.

TC- Jul 2016 - 008 - Autopsy findings revealed moderate


The  microscopic examination  revealed a  fresh thrombus  superimposed  on  an  atheromatous plaque. (Figure 2) Heart showed  congestion on microscopy.


TC- Jul 2016 - 009 - Left coronary artery showing


Diagnosis :

The cause of death was sudden cardiac death as a result of total occlusion of the anterior descending branch of the LCA by a fresh thrombus superimposed on a pre-existing atheromatous plaque.


Discussion :

Young men frequenting gymnasiums who are body builders or professional athletes are known to use steroid hormones and growth hormones and also consume high caloric diets to build up their muscles to improve their strength and endurance levels. Steroids also enhance appetite. Steroid use has been shown to increase atherosclerosis as well as increase the risk of thrombus formation. This is in addition to left ventricular contractility dysfunction that can occur. The use of steroids was clearly a risk factor in this case contributing to the probable myocardial infarction causing SCD.


Case 2 :

An 18-year-old male college student collapsed and died while playing football on the college grounds. An autopsy was performed.


Pathological Findings :

On postmortem examination there was complete occlusion (brownish-white and reddish in color) of the LAD (Left Anterior Descending) branch of the LCA. The  left  ventricular  wall was  congested. Microscopic examination:  The LAD  branch  of LCA showed a transmural arteritis of the arterial wall, mixed infiltrate of neutrophils,  eosinophils, mononuclear cells, and fibrinoid necrosis with a thrombus in the lumen. The arterial wall showed concentric onion-skin fibrosis. These  features are diagnostic of Polyarteritis Nodosa (PAN).


Discussion :

PAN is a systemic vasculitis affecting medium sized vessels. Cardiac involvement usually is a coronary arteritis that causes stenosis, aneurysms, dissection, aneurysmal rupture, thrombosis and possible myocardial infarction. In addition, there may occur a myocarditis resulting from the arteritis as well as valvular involvement in some patients.


Conclusion :

Ischemic heart disease has several risk factors. These include smoking, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, alcoholism, sedentary habits, positive family history, obesity, anemia, anti-psychotic medication, narcotic drug abuse, increased waist to hip ratio, nephrotic syndrome, hypercoagulability, systemic lupus erythematous. In these cases, we describe two new risk factors namely (1) Use of corticosteroids and growth hormone, used by fitness instructors  (2) Polyarteritis Nodosa.

Young patients (below 30 years of age) presenting with an  acute myocardial infarction have the following clinical features :

Chest pain is the most important presenting symptom. Anterior wall myocardial infarction, usually a single vessel disease, and smoking and a positive family history are common risk factors. Non-atherosclerotic coronary artery disease due to hypercoagulability should be investigated in younger patients. Overall, 4-8 % of the patients with an acute myocardial infarction are less than 40 years of age.[2] There is a paucity of information concerning the clinical features, natural history and prognosis of young patients with an acute myocardial infarction. In young patients besides morbidity there are other concerns like psychological effects, financial constraints for the person and family.[3]



TC- Jul 2016 - 010 - Writers Art pg 12



References :

  1. Sricharan K.N., Rajesh S., Rashmi, Meghana H.C., Sanjeev B, Soumya M. Study of Acute Myocardial Infarction in Young Adults : Risk Factors, Presentation  and Angiographic Findings. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 2012, Vol 6 (2), 257-260.


  1. Venkateshwarlu N, Gandaiah P, Indira  G, Reddy PAG, Sivarajappa P. Acute Myocardial Infarction  in young below 30 years of age: Special insight into risk factors. International Journal of Medical and Applied Sciences, 2013, Vol 2, Issue 4, 90-98.


  1. Vaidya CV, Majumdar DK, A Study of Acute ST elevation MI in young patients from Government teaching hospital. Sudan Med. Moritt. 2015, Vol 10, issue 2, 45-49.