University of Oulu

Janna P. Kauppila, Lasse Pakanen, Katja Porvari, Juha Vähätalo, Lauri Holmström, Juha S. Perkiömäki, Heikki V. Huikuri & M. Juhani Junttila (2021) Blood alcohol levels in Finnish victims of non-ischaemic sudden cardiac death, Annals of Medicine, 53:1, 413-419, DOI: 10.1080/07853890.2021.1890204

Blood alcohol levels in Finnish victims of non-ischaemic sudden cardiac death

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Author: Kauppila, Janna P.1; Pakanen, Lasse2,3; Porvari, Katja3;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Internal Medicine, Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Forensic Medicine Unit, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Forensic Medicine, Research Unit of Internal Medicine, Medical Research Center Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-22


Introduction: Non-ischaemic heart disease (NIHD) is the underlying pathology in∼20% of all sudden cardiac deaths (SCDs). Heavy drinking is known to be associated with SCD due to ischaemic heart disease, but studies on association of recent alcohol consumption and SCD in patients with NIHD are scarce. We evaluated the blood alcohol levels of autopsy verified non-ischaemic SCD victims.

Methods: Study population was derived from the Finnish Genetic Study of Arrhythmic Events (Fingesture) (n = 5869, mean age 65 ± 12, 79% males). All deaths occurred in Northern Finland during 1998–2017. All victims underwent a medico-legal autopsy. Subjects of SCD due to ischaemic heart disease were excluded.

Results: A total of 1301 (mean age 57 ± 12, 78% males) victims of SCD due to NIHD were included in the study. The blood ethanol level was elevated in 543 (42%) subjects, out of which the blood alcohol level was ≥0.10%in 339 (62%) subjects and ≥0.15%in 252 (46%) subjects. Male SCD victims had alcohol in blood more frequently compared to females (45% versus 31%, p < .001).

Conclusion: Elevated blood alcohol level is common in SCD victims due to NIHD, especially in males. Recent alcohol consumption might contribute to the subsequent SCD in many non-ischaemic SCD victims.

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Series: Annals of medicine
ISSN: 0785-3890
ISSN-E: 1365-2060
ISSN-L: 0785-3890
Volume: 53
Issue: 1
Pages: 413 - 419
DOI: 10.1080/07853890.2021.1890204
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
Funding: This work was supported by The Finnish Medical Foundation, Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation and Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research.
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.