Background: We investigated the risk of sudden cardiac arrest in association with the recent loss of, or separation from, a family member or friend.
Methods: Our case-crossover study included 490 apparently healthy married residents of King County, Washington, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest between 1988 and 2005. We compared exposure to spouse-reported family/friend events occurring ≤1 month before sudden cardiac arrest with events occurring in the previous 5 months. We evaluated potential effect modification by habitual vigorous physical activity.
Results: Recent family/friend events were associated with a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest (odds ratio [OR] = 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1–2.4). ORs for cases with and without habitual vigorous physical activity were 1.1 (0.6–2.2) and 2.0 (1.2–3.1), respectively (interaction P = 0.02).
Conclusions: These results suggest family/friend events may trigger sudden cardiac arrest and raise the hypothesis that habitual vigorous physical activity may lower susceptibility to these potential triggers.