Global approaches to cardiogenetic evaluation after sudden cardiac death in the young: A survey among health care professionals

Lieke M. van den Heuvel, Judy Do, Laura Yeates, Heather MacLeod, Cynthia A. James, Johan Duflou, Jonathan R. Skinner, Christopher Semsarian, J. Peter van Tintelen, Jodie Ingles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Thorough investigation of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in those aged 1–40 years commonly reveals a heritable cause, yet access to postmortem genetic testing is variable. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore practices of postmortem genetic testing and attitudes of health care professionals worldwide. Methods: A survey was administered among health care professionals recruited through professional associations, social media, and networks of researchers. Topics included practices around postmortem genetic testing, level of confidence in health care professionals’ ability, and attitudes toward postmortem genetic testing practices. Results: There were 112 respondents, with 93% from North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand, and 7% from South America, Asia and Africa. Only 30% reported autopsy as mandatory, and overall practices were largely case by case and not standardized. North American respondents (87%) more often perceived practices as ineffective compared to those from Europe (58%) and Australia/New Zealand (48%; P =.002). Where a heritable cause is suspected, 69% considered postmortem genetic testing and 61% offered genetic counseling to surviving family members. Financial resources varied widely. Half of participants believed practices in their countries perpetuated health inequalities. Conclusion: Postmortem genetic testing is not consistently available in the investigation of young SCD despite being a recommendation in international guidelines. Access to postmortem genetic testing, which is critical in ascertaining a cause of death in many cases, must be guided by well-resourced, multidisciplinary teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1637-1644
Number of pages8
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Health care professionals
  • Postmortem genetic testing
  • Procedures
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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