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National Leader In Sudden Cardiac Death Research Named Associate Director Of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute

Sumeet S. Chugh, M.D., has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm abnormalities and has led a large-scale study of sudden cardiac death

Los Angeles - Nov. 18, 2008 – Sumeet S. Chugh, M.D., an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm abnormalities who is leading groundbreaking research on sudden cardiac arrest, has been named associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, where he will also serve as director of Clinical Electrophysiology.

Chugh previously directed the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center at Oregon Health & Science University, where he was section chief of clinical cardiac electrophysiology and associate professor of medicine. Beginning in 2002, he led the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study, an ambitious population study involving 16 hospitals serving Multnomah County, Ore. A population study looks at a group of individuals from the general population who share a common characteristic – in this case, sudden cardiac arrest.

Unlike heart attacks, which are typically caused by clogged coronary arteries, sudden cardiac arrest is the result of defective electrical impulses in the heart – what Chugh refers to as “the ultimate heart rhythm problem.” The Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study and related research projects are continuing to shed light on the incidence, demographics, genetic defects, risk factors, triggers and prevention techniques related to sudden cardiac arrest, which causes nearly instantaneous death in 90 percent of cases.

The studies provided a comprehensive assessment of sudden cardiac arrest victims in a community of about 1 million residents over seven consecutive years. This led to a major shift in the way the condition is researched, understood and treated. Chugh, considered a world leader in this community-centered research concept, is now helping to design and launch similar studies around the globe.

Chugh’s research found that:

  • Far fewer people suffer sudden cardiac arrest than previously estimated. This led to a significant change in the U.S. national assessment of the scope of the problem.The methods and criteria currently used for screening at-risk patients and guiding treatment decisions are insufficient, which is redirecting researchers to find better ways to measure risk.
  • There is a strong link between incidence of cardiac arrest and socioeconomic status, with higher rates in less affluent neighborhoods. This has implications for emergency response issues, such as placement of automated external defibrillators.
  • Though it has been thought that vigorous physical activity was a prime trigger of sudden cardiac arrest, the vast majority of victims are sleeping or performing light activities, a finding that shifts the prevention focus toward emotional stress, sleep-related disorders and other possible factors.

Board-certified in cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology, Chugh has acquired vast experience in diagnostic procedures, the use of pacemakers, defibrillators and biventricular devices, and the performance of radiofrequency ablation procedures to correct rhythm problems. Ablation techniques are used to interrupt defective nerve pathways that cause rhythm abnormalities.

“Dr. Chugh is respected internationally as a brilliant researcher with unsurpassed clinical skills. This combination gives him the rare ability to provide excellent, compassionate patient care while producing landmark research that is changing the way we understand and treat heart rhythm abnormalities. The availability of his expertise at Cedars-Sinai will greatly enhance our reputation as one of the nation’s leading heart centers,” said Eduardo Marbán, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

Chugh, whose research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, has published over 100 articles and abstracts in professional journals. He is currently a charter member of the Electrical Signaling, Ion Transport, and Arrhythmias Study Section, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics and is an article reviewer for 13 medical and scientific journals.

Chugh is the current chair of the Clinical Research and Training Committee of the Heart Rhythm Society. He also leads the panel that is charged by the World Health Organization with performing a worldwide assessment of heart rhythm disorders for the Global Burden of Disease Study.

After receiving his medical degree with honors from Government Medical College, Patiala, in Punjab, India, Chugh served as a research associate at Tufts New England Medical Center from 1989 to 1991. He undertook the first year of his internal medicine residency at Tufts Newton Wellesley Hospital in Boston, with the final two years at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. He completed a fellowship in cardiology at the University of Minnesota and a fellowship in clinical cardiac electrophysiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Chugh joined the faculty of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland in 1999, holding a number of academic positions prior to accepting his new responsibilities at Cedars-Sinai.