Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the sudden, unexpected death due to abrupt loss of heart function secondary to cardiovascular disease. In certain populations living with cardiovascular disease, SCD follows a distinct 24-hour pattern in occurrence, suggesting day/night rhythms in behavior, the environment, and endogenous circadian rhythms result in daily spans of increased vulnerability. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute convened a workshop, Understanding Circadian Mechanisms of Sudden Cardiac Death to identify fundamental questions regarding the role of the circadian rhythms in SCD. Part 2 summarizes research gaps and opportunities in the areas of population and clinical research identified in the workshop. Established research supports a complex interaction between circadian rhythms and physiological responses that increase the risk for SCD. Moreover, these physiological responses themselves are influenced by several biological variables, including the type of cardiovascular disease, sex, age, and genetics, as well as environmental factors. The emergence of new noninvasive biotechnological tools that continuously measure key cardiovascular variables, as well as the identification of biomarkers to assess circadian rhythms, hold promise for generating large-scale human data sets that will delineate which subsets of individuals are most vulnerable to SCD. Additionally, these data will improve our understanding of how people who suffer from circadian disruptions develop cardiovascular diseases that increase the risk for SCD. Emerging strategies to identify new biomarkers that can quantify circadian health (eg, environmental, behavioral, and internal misalignment) may lead to new interventions and therapeutic targets to prevent the progression of cardiovascular diseases that cause SCD.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- cardiovascular diseases
- circadian clock
- circadian rhythm
- sudden cardiac death