About two-thirds of sudden deaths are sudden cardiac deaths (SCD), and ischemic heart disease (IHD) accounts for 60% of these. Although an autopsy needs to be performed to prove SCD, the forensic autopsy rate is very low in Japan. To diagnose the cause of death, postmortem computed tomography (PMCT) is often performed. Because coronary artery calcification (CAC) is a risk factor in cardiac diseases such as IHD and its severity can be evaluated with CT, we examined its ability to diagnose SCD. We collected 104 autopsy cases with CT scans. On the basis of the autopsy report, we separated the cases into two groups: SCD suspected as the cause of death and SCD not suspected. We calculated each CAC severity with the Agatston score from the CT images. Cases with Agatston scores of more than 400 were labeled as severe. The relationship between SCD and CAC severity was confirmed with Fisher’s exact test (p < 0.05). The sensitivity and specificity of CAC severity for SCD were 20.3% and 97.5%, respectively, and the positive likelihood ratio was 8.1. Severe CAC can increase the probability of SCD. In cases in which only PMCT can be performed, this finding can be helpful for diagnosing SCD.Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd and Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine. All rights reserved.
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