Sudden death in eating disorders
Beatriz Jáuregui-Garrido1, Ignacio Jáuregui-Lobera2,3
1Department of Cardiology, University Hospital Virgen del Rocío, 2Behavioral Sciences Institute, 3Pablo de Olavide University, Seville, Spain
Abstract: Eating disorders are usually associated with an increased risk of premature death with a wide range of rates and causes of mortality. “Sudden death” has been defined as the abrupt and unexpected occurrence of fatality for which no satisfactory explanation of the cause can be ascertained. In many cases of sudden death, autopsies do not clarify the main cause. Cardiovascular complications are usually involved in these deaths. The purpose of this review was to report an update of the existing literature data on the main findings with respect to sudden death in eating disorders by means of a search conducted in PubMed. The most relevant conclusion of this review seems to be that the main causes of sudden death in eating disorders are those related to cardiovascular complications. The predictive value of the increased QT interval dispersion as a marker of sudden acute ventricular arrhythmia and death has been demonstrated. Eating disorder patients with severe cardiovascular symptoms should be hospitalized. In general, with respect to sudden death in eating disorders, some findings (eg, long-term eating disorders, chronic hypokalemia, chronically low plasma albumin, and QT intervals >600 milliseconds) must be taken into account, and it must be highlighted that during refeeding, the adverse effects of hypophosphatemia include cardiac failure. Monitoring vital signs and performing electrocardiograms and serial measurements of plasma potassium are relevant during the treatment of eating disorder patients.
Keywords: sudden death, cardiovascular complications, refeeding syndrome, QT interval, hypokalemia
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