Sudden Death in Young & Fit

It is a sad and terrifying sight to see someone fall unconscious and never wake up again. Unfortunately, it happens all too often in young, seemingly healthy people these days. Videos of such incidents are often shared on social media, which makes it all the more alarming. Let us discuss today what is causing these sudden deaths, and how can we prevent them?

While sudden cardiac death (SCD) is not uncommon in adults above 30 years of age, it is usually due to cardiovascular causes like angina and Myocardial Infarction (heart attack) in that age group. However, the causes of SCD in young people are different and many times unknown and unpredictable. The common cause of sudden death in an athlete is usually Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common genetic heart disease in the United States (US), with an estimated prevalence of 1 in 500 persons from echocardiography-based studies. In many cases, the cause is identified only after a postmortem examination. This makes it challenging to prevent such deaths unless individuals undergo cardiac screening for some other reasons.

Below are some videos that look like sudden death that I found on social media:

It is often seen in people who have been involved in strenuous exercise or sports. Still, there are also instances where a person is just walking and falls unconscious. Since the death is sudden, it usually comes without any warning or signs. This makes it even more critical to identify and prevent the causes.

Causes of sudden death in fit and young people:

Cause of sudden death in children and adolescents

One way to prevent sudden death in competitive sports is to undergo pre-participation screening. Most of the cases of deaths in competitive sports that were evaluated in postmortem suggested that the death could have been prevented if they underwent pre-participation screening. Hence, mandatory screening for competitive sports is a must.

Individuals who have gone unconscious without any apparent reasons, palpitations are felt, or have a history of cardiac disease or sudden death in the family should also undergo screening. Early detection of heart problems and prompt treatment can help prevent sudden death.

Screening can involve a physical examination, an electrocardiogram (ECG), and an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). If an abnormality is found, further tests or treatments may be necessary.

In conclusion, sudden death in fit and young people is a concerning issue. It can happen without warning, and the causes can be unpredictable and unknown. However, with proper screening and early detection, it is possible to prevent such deaths. Mandatory screening for competitive sports and screening for individuals with specific risk factors should be emphasized. It is essential to spread awareness about the importance of cardiac screening to prevent sudden death and to ensure the safety of young and fit people.


Stable Rates of Obstructive Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in a Contemporary Era – PMC (

Sudden cardiac death in children and adolescents (excluding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) – PMC (

Sudden death in young competitive athletes. Clinical, demographic, and pathological profiles – PubMed (