Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome

Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome is also known as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS), sudden adult death syndrome or sudden unexpected/unexplained death syndrome (SUDS. Like the name implies, it is a sudden unexpected death of adolescents and young adults, mainly during their sleep.

This syndrome is rare in most areas around the world, but it seems to mainly target Southeast Asians. It seems to occur mainly in populations that are culturally and genetically distinct and people who leave the population carry with them the vulnerability to sudden death during sleep.
Sudden unexplained death syndrome was first noted in 1977 among southeast Asian Hmong refugees in the US[1]. The disease was again noted in Singapore, when a retrospective survey of records showed that 230 otherwise healthy Thai men died suddenly of unexplained causes between 1982 and 1990. Nepalese men, working in Saudi Arabia or Malaysia also came 'home in caskets'[2].

A Tokyo Medical Examiner reported that every year several hundred evidently healthy men are found dead in their beds in the Tokyo District alone. These observations indicate that the recent sudden deaths of Southeast Asian refugees are not a new occurrence, but rather an ongoing pattern of sudden deaths that appears in Southeast Asia.

Although there has been a significant amount of research on this topic, scientists have not been able to determine the exact cause. One possible cause, however, is Brugada Syndrome, a genetic disease that is characterised by abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG) findings[3]. It has been implicated as a major cause of Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome.

My own hypothesis is that these young males died of a broken heart as a result of continued stress because of prolonged homesickness.

[1] Munger: Sudden death in sleep of Laotian-Hmong refugees in Thailand: a case-control study in American Journal of Public Health - 1987
[2] Hisdustan Times: 21dec17. See here
[3] Gourrault et al: Brugada syndrome: Diagnosis, risk stratification and management in Archives of Cardiovascular Diseases - 2017

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