TV presenter Hans Meiser reportedly died of sudden cardiac death. A dangerous cause of death. But there are warning signs. Consistent prevention is even better.
Scharbeutz – Hans Meiser (77), the second celebrity to die of sudden cardiac death in a few days. Almost a week ago, acting legend Elmar Wepper (79) died due to a surprising heart problem. The death of the two greats of television gives the impression that it is above all the elderly who are at risk of dying. An error.
“Sudden cardiac death” or “second death,” as it is sometimes called, does not always happen without warning. The warning signs are definitely recognisable, as long as you look for them.
“No uniform clinical picture”: sudden cardiac death cannot only affect elderly people
Overall, the number of fatal heart diseases has decreased over the last two decades, as the German Heart Report 2022 shows. The mortality rate for women has decreased by around 34 percent and for men by 26 percent. But: “Cardiovascular diseases are still the leading cause of death in Germany,” says cardiologist Thomas Voigtländer. According to the German Heart Foundation, around 65,000 people die from heart failure every year.
According to the organization, men are at greater risk than women, due to hormonal reasons. The risk of suffering sudden cardiac death increases with age, as people generally become more susceptible to heart disease as they age. But even the youngest are not excluded from the causes of death. Reportedly, 20% of all deaths are under the age of 65.
“Sudden cardiac death is not a uniform clinical picture,” writes the German Heart Foundation on its homepage. Numerous reasons could be responsible for the heart muscle no longer pumping blood in a coordinated manner. This causes fibrillation and the body is no longer supplied with enough blood. Circulatory collapse follows within seconds.
Preventing heart disease: a healthy lifestyle is the first step
High-risk diseases such as hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol are often the trigger for sudden cardiac death. This causes narrowing of the blood vessels (coronary heart disease), which in turn can cause the heart muscle to malfunction. According to experts, around six million people are affected in Germany.
A healthy lifestyle with a varied diet and sufficient physical activity can be seen as the first measure against sudden cardiac death as it prevents risk diseases early.
Case of Christian Eriksson: Even “healthy” people can have heart disease
However, numerous accidents related to professional sports demonstrate that even well-trained young people can suffer sudden cardiac arrest. It is estimated that one to three athletes in 100,000 develop a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. One of the most prominent examples is Christian Eriksson.
The Danish professional footballer collapsed on the pitch during an international match in 2021. Thanks to the prompt intervention of team doctors, the then 29-year-old survived. This demonstrates the importance of a qualified emergency room, also underlined by experts: every minute the chance of survival of untreated patients decreases by approximately 10%.
If you have these typical heart attack symptoms, you should call 911: sudden onset of severe pain that lasts more than five minutes and does not improve with rest, cold sweat, paleness, nausea, shortness of breath and restlessness.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for a visit to a doctor. Only professionals can make the correct diagnosis and initiate appropriate therapy. The use of medications or dietary supplements should be discussed with a doctor in advance.
Don’t ignore the warning signs – this is how heart failure can be diagnosed and avoided early
But we don’t necessarily have to come to that. As the German Heart Foundation informs, in many cases sudden cardiac death is preventable; although not entirely. But if you constantly prevent and recognize and interpret warning signs correctly and promptly, you can minimize the risk.
The following signs should be taken seriously and discussed with a cardiologist:
- Chest pain or tightness in the upper body
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations due to limited recovery capacity
- Persistent “stumble” in the heart
- Attacks of dizziness or even loss of consciousness
As reported by the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), sudden cardiac death is often preceded by cardiac arrhythmias. Not only those who experience the symptoms mentioned (even isolated ones) should consult their doctor. The earlier any abnormalities are detected, the better they can be treated.
Those with public health insurance are entitled to a regular health examination, which is paid for by the health insurance company. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, all people aged between 18 and 34 are guaranteed by law a medical check-up; from 35 onwards, men and women can be covered by health insurance every three years. (rku)