Pokkuri Death Syndrome; sudden cardiac death cases without coronary atherosclerosis in South Asian young males

Katsuyuki Nakajima, Sanae Takeichi, Yasuhiro Nakajima, Masaki Q. Fujita

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Sudden death is one of the major concerns in forensic medicine. Especially when the deceased is a young subject without significant history, the case will be of major interest to the authorities.Sudden unexplained cardiac death has been known as " Pokkuri Death Syndrome" (PDS) in Japan, " Lai Tai" in Thailand, " Bangungut" in the Philippines, " Dream Disease" in Hawaii, and " Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome" among South Asian immigrants in the USA. However, the clinical and pathological features of these sudden death cases, especially the characteristics of no coronary atherosclerosis, are surprisingly similar and mainly occur among Southeast Asian young males during sleep in the midnight. In this manuscript, we have reviewed the pathological characteristics and the possible mechanism of death in PDS cases, which were associated with significantly elevated remnant lipoproteins in plasma as revealed from our studies during the past 15 years in Japan. Although elevated plasma remnant lipoproteins have been known to be strongly atherogenic, coronary atherosclerosis was not observed in PDS cases. PDS cases were shown to be an interesting cardiovascular disease death discovered in forensic medicine research, which may suggest the difference between the occurrence of cardiovascular events and the severity of coronary atherosclerosis as separate factors. These observations in PDS cases suggest the possibility that the intervention could be more targeted to suppress the cardiovascular events rather than to slow down the progression of atherosclerosis, which is now most extensively targeted for the therapy of cardiovascular disease in Western countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-13
Number of pages8
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Apr 15


  • Coronary artery spasm
  • LOX-1
  • Pokkuri Death Syndrome (PDS)
  • Remnant lipoproteins (RLP)
  • Rho-kinase
  • Sudden cardiac death (SCD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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