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Caring for families affected by sudden cardiac death of a young relative
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Caring for families affected by sudden cardiac death of a young relative

Ms Laura Yeates, Institution: University of Sydney

2019 Health Professional Scholarship

Years funded: 2020-2021


Sudden cardiac death is a devastating complication of many genetic heart diseases particularly when it occurs in a young person (<35years). Sudden cardiac death can be due to inherited (genetic) heart conditions, the majority of which are autosomal dominant, meaning that first degree relatives have a 1 in 2 (50%) chance of inheriting the same disease. Tragically sudden cardiac death can be the first presentation of disease in a family.

The psychological impact of sudden cardiac death on a family is significant and lifelong. We have previously shown a high prevalence of psychological difficulties in first-degree relatives after a young unexpected sudden cardiac death. Indeed, 1 in 2 family members had symptoms of prolonged grief and/or posttraumatic stress disorder, reported on average 6 years after the death.

The aim of this research project is to better understand how to care for this challenging population. We believe our world-class multidisciplinary clinics have a positive impact however further work needs to be done to imporve our understanding and provide more targeted psychological support interventions.


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