There have been reports in the lay press 1,2 as well as in medical literature of sudden unexplained deaths during sleep among Filipinos. The victims are generally young (between 25 and 40 years of age) robust men without manifestations of any prior illness, who go to sleep after eating a heavy meal and while asleep are observed to cough, choke, gasp, groan, scream, yell, or struggle and then suddenly die without waking up from their sleep. In a known patient 3 who woke up but who died when he returned to sleep the same night, headache and abdominal pain were complained of.
The incidence of these deaths is greater among the laboring class4,5 than among businessmen and professionals, and although in Hawaii other Orientals form a sizeable group, the malady seems to be confined to Filipinos. Of the 30 deaths reported in the city of Manila in 1955, 26
NOLASCO JB. An Inquiry into "Bangungut". AMA Arch Intern Med. 1957;99(6):905-912. doi:10.1001/archinte.1957.00260060063006