Sudden Death Syndrome
Sudden Death Syndrome is a catch-all, medical colloquial term for sudden heart failure. There are several, somewhat more specific sudden death syndromes such as Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome, Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, Sudden Adolescent Death Syndrome, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Mostly however, many of these diagnosis are guesses or no idea what really causes a previously healthy individual to abruptly stop living with no physical defects.
It is important to make a distinction between this term and the related term cardiac arrest, which refers to cessation of cardiac pump function which may be reversible. The phrase sudden cardiac death is a public health concept incorporating the features of natural, rapid, and unexpected. It does not specifically refer to the mechanism or cause of death.
Such an incident is often stunning to civilians as well as medical staff. My grandmother, a nurse of 50 years, reports that this type of death is as though the Grim Reaper simply lost patience.
Folklore attempting to give reason to the phenomena exists. The incidence of SDS is high in Southwest Asia and the Philippines in young men. The legend is that a demon named Bangungot or batibat, who preys on a sleeping man, assumes a hag-like form and sits upon the chest of its victim until he suffocates. To ward off the batibat, one should bite one’s thumb or wiggle one’s toes. In this way, the person will awaken from the nightmare induced by the batibat.