Sudden death: Risk factors | Updated: 2023-03-16
Sudden death can be one of the most serious diseases in human beings. In the eyes of many people, sudden death is unpredictable, but in fact there are certain risk factors that may cause the disease.
Statistics show that sudden cardiac death is the most common among sudden death cases, accounting for about three-quarters. In addition, it has been found that the following eight factors are closely related to the occurrence of sudden death.
People between 40 and 60 years old are at a higher risk of sudden death. The fast pace of work, stress, staying up late and working overtime, an irregular diet, smoking and drinking make it more likely for a middle-age person to develop hypertension, dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia. As these diseases are often poorly managed, they eventually result in sudden cardiac arrest, with coronary heart disease being the leading cause.
Sudden death can occur among both men and women, but the incidence for men is higher than that for women.
The drastic fluctuation of ambient temperature is an important inducing factor of sudden death. On severely cold or hot days, strong temperature fluctuations not only bring physical discomfort to people, but also give rise to the excessive activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers radical changes in blood pressure and cardiac electrical activity, resulting in sudden death.
Unhealthy lifestyle, smoking, drinking
An unhealthy lifestyle is a risk factor for atherosclerosis. A long-term unhealthy lifestyle will lead to a series of changes in the body. These changes promote the continuous development of heart and cerebrovascular ischemia, and can also induce the excessive activation of sympathetic nerves in a short period, increasing the oxygen consumption of the heart and brain. Insufficient blood supply and oxygen supply to the heart and brain can be exacerbated in the process, which in turn induces sudden death.

Psychological disorders and violent mood swings
Ancient Chinese books have recorded the sudden deaths of Wanyan Zongbi and Niu Gao, two well-known generals who both died in the late 1140s. The former was out of too much anger, and the latter out of excessive joy. Based on modern medical experience, they were both victims of sudden cardiac arrest. 
Countless incidents, ranging from earthquakes and wars to work pressure and quarrels, can lead to sudden death. When the mood fluctuates violently, the sympathetic nerves of the human body are over stimulated, which can bring about a coronary artery spasm, ventricular fibrillation, and even sudden death.
Overwork and unscientific sports behaviors
People who are overworked are often under pressure. At the same time, they are afflicted by physical exhaustion, depression, anxiety and other negative emotions, severe cases of which can induce sudden death.
In addition, normally inactive people who suddenly exercise excessively, or  those who experience discomfort  during strenuous exercise but still insist on exercising, may face risk of sudden death as well.
Overeating and obesity
According to the Report on the Nutrition and Chronic Disease Status of Chinese Residents (2020), more than half of Chinese adults are overweight or obese.
Obesity may be associated with numerous underlying cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis. Most overweight people lack proper exercise, and some are afflicted by psychological disorders. 
Poor control of common diseases
Common cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis, are important risk factors for sudden death. Patients with poor disease control are at a higher risk. 
Many people ignore regular physical examinations and miss the opportunity to nip these basic diseases in their infancy. Many others have no symptoms and do not know that they are suffering from the diseases, which eventually results in various serious health problems.