Women vulnerable to sudden cardiac death overnight, study finds

Women are more likely than men to suffer sudden death from cardiac arrest during nighttime hours, according to a study published in Heart Rhythm Jan. 19. 

Researchers evaluated 4,136 sudden cardiac death cases, 22 percent of which occurred between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Results showed 25.4 percent of women suffered sudden cardiac death at night compared to 20.6 percent of men. Additionally, brain-affecting medications such as sedatives and depression management drugs were associated with nighttime sudden cardiac death, as well as lung disease and smoking history. While the study observed this association regardless of gender, women were taking more brain-affecting medications than men.  

The findings were particularly surprising since the body is typically in a resting state during overnight hours, with reduced metabolism, heart rate and blood pressure, researchers said. 

"Prescribing physicians may wish to be cautious when recommending brain-affecting medications, for example, sedatives and drugs prescribed for pain and depression management, to high-risk patients, especially women," the news release said. 

View the full study here.

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