General Information

What is Arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia is a condition characterised by the failure of the heart to contract/beat at the correct time. 

The electrical system of the heart is a series of channels that carry ions (charged particles) in and out of cells that trigger the heart beat.

Cardiac Arrhythmia is due to an electrical "fault": the heart beats either too fast or too slow and is more often than not, fatal!

Unexplained deaths, presumed to result from sudden cardiac arrhythmias, occur in young Australians with structurally normal hearts. See figure 2
— Fact
All syndromes are accountable for sudden deaths of athletes
— Myth
All sudden deaths occur during or shortly after physical exertion
— Myth
The majority of sudden deaths involve fit, strong and healthy young people regardless of their, physical fitness regimes or athletic ability
— Fact
Consumption of Energy drinks can result in caffeine toxicity.
— Fact
From a review study completed with over 10,199 autopsies, between 1994 >2002, of which193 were classified as sudden cardiac deaths, 31% were unascertained deaths, presumed to be primary arrhythmogenic disorders.
— Fact
Energy drinks contain the equivalent amount of caffeine as one standard cup of coffee
— Myth

Figure 2

Relatively rare diseases called ion channelopathies can effect the electrical functioning of the heart without effecting the heart structure. This means they can only be detected in life and not at post-mortem. There are several different types of ion channelopathies including:

Long QT Syndrome (LQTS)
Brugada Syndrome
CPVT (catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachybardia)
ARVC (arrhythmogenic right ventricular caridiomyopathy)
PCCD (progressive cardiac conduction defect)
IVF (idopathic ventricular fibrillation)
Sodium channel disease

Structural heart disease is occasionally found to be a cause of SADS (between 1 and 2 in every 10 cases).

There is no confirmed statistical information in relation to SUDS. ie: There are no reliable percentages based on any syndromes 'above' or suspected/unascertained causes of sudden death in the young. Any percentages noted are estimates only. This needs to be addressed by all State and Territory Coroners in order for the ABS to appropriately classify deaths of possible or presumed aetiology or interpreted medical terminology

It is presumed, however, that there are between 5>10 cases of SADS (Sudden Arrhymthia Death Syndrome) in Australia per week. At most, we lose 500 young lives per year at least, we lose approximately 250 lives that were preventable. If the national road toll statistically showed this as a percentage of young lives lost, then there would be procedures put into place to dramatically reduce loss of life.

ASK Y recommends: Awareness for the general public and communities


Education for General Practitioners and Cardiologists to enable them to guide families and loved ones through a very daunting , confusing and confronting process

Integration between State and Territory Coroners with General Practitioners, Cardiologists, Electrophysiologists

State and Federal Government participation and acceptance of a 'cause' that needs to be highlighted as crucial on their AGENDA to provide funding for genetic testing and take particular interest into Myriad

ASK Y also endeavors to prompt the process of "loss" to automatically pursue all avenues, for immediate families, to follow in a compassionate, concise and informative manner.

Footnote: The role of the coroner is to determine 'Cause of Death' and to make recommendations to assist in the prevention of further loss of life

*Aetiology: Study of a cause ie; disease

*SUDS: Sudden Unexplained Death