Sudden cardiac death

Die Arbeitgruppe wurde gegründet, um die Untersuchungsabläufe der Herzuntersuchungen im Falle plötzlicher Herztodesfälle zu harmonisieren und Kollaborationen mit anderen klinischen Disziplinen zu etablieren, die sich mit dieser Problematik konfrontiert sehen.

Leiterin der Arbeitsgruppe
Dr. med. Katarzyna Michaud

Any sudden, unexpected or unexplained death is a reason for medico-legal investigation. The underlying cause of natural sudden death is most frequently cardiovascular with ischemic heart disease being most common. Most of cardiac pathologies that result in sudden cardiac death (SCD) in the young victims autopsied in forensic centres are undiagnosed before death and are due to genetic abnormalities. Further cases may be prevented if the appropriate treatment is initiated in affected family members.

Working group

Our working group of forensic pathologists and associated cardiologists, clinical and molecular geneticists proposed recommendations on the interdisciplinary collaboration and workflow for forensic SCD cases in Switzerland. These recommendations, published in Swiss Medical Weekly, have been endorsed by the Swiss Society of Cardiology, by the Swiss Society of Legal Medicine and by the Swiss Society of Medical Genetics.

Key points of our recommendations:

  1. The autopsy of sudden death victims under 40 years of age is strongly recommended.
  2. Frozen (at least –20 °C, ideally –80 °C) post-mortem material for possible genetic testing (EDTA blood and/or tissue) should be collected and stored for at least 5 years upon permission from the DA.
  3. The family should be informed about the autopsy results.
  4. Multidisciplinary cardiogenetic counselling for the family of a SCD victim with a suspected inheritable cardiac disorder is recommended.
  5. The recommended time to perform post-mortem genetic testing is after a cardiogenetic counselling of the family.

Contacts for relatives of SCD victims:

Genève: Sara.Sabatasso(at)
Lausanne: Katarzyna.michaud(at)
Zurich: Stephan.Bolliger(at)

Contacts for specific questions regarding the cardiogenetic consultation:

Bern: rhythmologie(at)
Lausanne: emeline.davoine(at)
Genève: siv.fokstuen(at)
Zurich: ardan.saguner(at)

Contact for Sport-Cardiology:

Bern: Matthias.Wilhelm(at)
Zurich: Christine.Kissel(at)