Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death in Patients Undergoing Cancer Treatment

Saadia Sherazi*, Arpan Patel, Kimberly Hsu, Susan Schleede, Arthur Watts, Scott McNitt, Mehmet Kemal Aktas, Ilan Goldenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in patients with cancer receiving cancer therapies is not well defined. In this study we aimed to (1) evaluate the risk of SCD during the first 6 months of cancer treatment and (2) identify risk factors (RFs) for SCD in patients who underwent active cancer treatment. The study population comprised 8,356 patients who received any cancer treatment at the University of Rochester Medical Center from 2011 to 2020. The primary end point was the occurrence of SCD within 6 months of cancer treatment. SCD was defined by using the modified Hinkle–Thaler classification. The mean age at the time of cancer treatment was 64 ± 14 years and 49% were women. All-cause mortality occurred in 834 patients (10%), of whom 51 (6%) were identified as SCD. The cumulative probability of SCD at 6 months was 0.6%. Age <74 years (0.042), history of congestive heart failure (0.058) and lung cancer (0.004) were identified as independent RFs for SCD in the multivariate Cox regression models. The cumulative probability of SCD at 6 months from cancer treatment initiation was significantly higher in patients with ≥2 RFs (1.6%) than in patients with 0 or 1 RF (0.5%) (log-rank p <0.001). In conclusion, our findings suggest that active cancer treatment is associated with SCD risk that is more pronounced in younger patients (< 74 years), patients with cancer and a history of heart failure, and those who underwent treatment for lung cancer. Future studies should address appropriate modalities for prevention and protection in this high-risk population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-141
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • congestive heart failure
  • sudden cardiac death


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