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Sudden Death After Arrest Syndrome?


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  • Sudden Death After Arrest Syndrome?


    MUNICH (Reuters) - Young men who die suddenly after being arrested by the police may be victims of a new syndrome similar to one that kills some wild animals when they are captured, Spanish researchers said on Tuesday.

    Manuel Martinez Selles of Madrid's Hospital Gregorio Maranon reached the conclusion after investigating 60 cases of sudden unexplained deaths in Spain following police detention.

    In one third of the cases, death occurred at the point of arrest, while in the remainder death was within 24 hours, Selles told the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.

    All but one of the casualties were male and their average age was just 33 years, with no previous history of cardiovascular disease.

    "Something unusual is going on," Sells said.

    Just why they died remains a mystery but he believes young men, in particular, may experience surges in blood levels of chemicals known as catecholamines when under severe stress.

    Adrenaline is one of the most abundant catecholamines.

    "We know that when a wild animal is captured, sometimes the animal dies suddenly," he said.

    "Probably when these young males are captured it is very stressful and their level of catecholamines goes very high and that can finish their life by ventricular fibrillation (cardiac arrest)."

    Selles compiled his study -- the first of its kind in any country -- by scouring Spanish newspapers for cases of unexplained death after police detention over the past 10 years.

    Only sudden deaths with no clear causes were included and autopsy reports were checked to exclude the possibility of mistreatment or past serious medical conditions.

    Twelve of the victims were drug users but Selles said this was not thought to have contributed to their deaths.

    Jonathan Halperin of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, who was not involved in the research, said the concept of a heart stress syndrome triggered by a flood of adrenaline or other chemicals was "a reasonable hypothesis."

    "We all know stress is bad for you and this may be stress in the extreme," he said.

  • #2
    Yes we had a class on this for our refresher training. From what I grasped it is from the person being extremely agitated, then when they get to jail and calm down, the crash their body takes literally kills them. When I heard about that lady who died in the airport jail, it made me think about it then (though it was found that she suffocated herself trying to manipulate her cuffs).


    • #3
      For the most part what I have heard, and researched is that when someone dies with in a couple hours of being arrested its a combo of things going on.

      (a) the adrenaline causes stress in the body- heart
      (b) the agitated and erratic body movements, plus the stress of being arrested (fear, anger ect) hits the heart
      Add all this to the alcohol and drugs that are most likely in the system,
      and then the heart goes boom.

      its a complex but simple thought process. don't get buzzed up- don't get into criminal behavior and then you wont get arrested.
      ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
      Oscar Wilde


      • #4
        Doctors have been discussing this for years, while lawyers have been associating these sudden deaths with whatever method was used to get the combative suspect into custody (ie: carotid restraint, OC teargas, rip-hobble restraint, taser, etc...).
        "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."


        • #5
          Just had a class on this last week.

          +1 to what pulicords said. I figure the best way to determine if you've got someone who is a good candidate for sudden in-custody deaths is to watch for signs of hyperthermia (not "hypothermia"). Problem is that we see so many MESSED UP personalities and behaviors that it's actually something you have to look really hard for.


          • #6
            I guess we could have them jog a bit around the jail cell after they are taken out of their cuffs to keep things from slowing down too fast

            Last I read, this "phenomena" hasn't been proven or disproven as far as a defense for Law Enforcment.

            If someone has proof otherwise, let me know, I'm very interested in this.
            Officer Down Memorial Page


            • #7
              Originally posted by pulicords View Post
              Doctors have been discussing this for years, while lawyers have been associating these sudden deaths with whatever method was used to get the combative suspect into custody (ie: carotid restraint, OC teargas, rip-hobble restraint, taser, etc...).
              It's an interesting study, but still only a study. I'm not medically qualified to make a judgement, but I'm certain many within the media and other interests, would have us stop arresting people. Certain to bring an end to the problem. Past my admitted sarcasm, I think it's equally valid to consider the arrested person's contribution to their own demise. Excessive use of alcohol, drug use, self inflicted physical wounds, the list goes on. There is an equally valid element of personal responsibilty, or lack thereof, in these situations too.


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