Sudden Cardiac Death in Brazil: Study Based on Physicians’ Perceptions of the Public Health Care System


  • Sponsors: Brazilian Society of Cardiac Arrhythmias (SOBRAC-SBC) and Department of Cardiac Pacing (DECA-SBCCV).

Address for reprints: Martino Martinelli Filho, M.D., Instituto do Coração (InCor) – Hospital das Clínicas da Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Enéas de Caravalho Aguiar, 44 – CEP 05403-000, São Paulo, SP, Brasil. Fax: 55-11-30817148; e-mail:


Background: There are no available statistical data about sudden cardiac death in Brazil. Therefore, this study has been conducted to evaluate the incidence of sudden cardiac death in our population and its implications.

Methods: The research methodology was based on Thurstone's Law of Comparative Judgment, whose premise is that the more an A stimulus differs from a B stimulus, the greater will be the number of people who will perceive this difference. This technique allows an estimation of actual occurrences from subjective perceptions, when compared to official statistics. Data were collected through telephone interviews conducted with Primary and Secondary Care physicians of the Public Health Service in the Metropolitan Area of São Paulo (MASP).

Results: In the period from October 19, 2009, to October 28, 2009, 196 interviews were conducted. The incidence of 21,270 cases of sudden cardiac death per year was estimated by linear regression analysis of the physicians’ responses and data from the Mortality Information System of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, with the following correlation and determination coefficients: r = 0.98 and r2= 0.95 (95% confidence interval 0.8–1.0, P < 0.05). The lack of waiting list for specialized care and socioadministrative problems were considered the main barriers to tertiary care access.

Conclusions: The incidence of sudden cardiac death in the MASP is high, and it was estimated as being higher than all other causes of deaths; the extrapolation technique based on the physicians’ perceptions was validated; and the most important bureaucratic barriers to patient referral to tertiary care have been identified. (PACE 2012; 35:1326–1331)