Sudden Cardiac Arrest | Sudden Cardiac Death
Sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency requiring CPR or a defibrillator. Sudden cardiac arrest is not a heart attack. It is loss of heart function. Get help fast. Emergency care must happen right away.
What is sudden cardiac arrest?
Sudden cardiac death is the greatest cause of natural death in the U.S. It is sudden death from loss of heart function, or cardiac arrest. The primary symptoms are loss of consciousness and breathing. The patient needs immediate care to survive.
What causes sudden cardiac arrest?
Sudden cardiac death usually occurs when there is an electrical problem with the heart. About half of all heart disease deaths are due to sudden cardiac death. But sudden cardiac death is not a heart attack. Sudden cardiac death happens when the heart beat changes. The heart beats very fast and the rhythm is not normal, which is called arrhythmia. Emergency treatment needs to begin right away.
Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms
People may have no symptoms with the onset of sudden cardiac arrest. When there are symptoms, they should not be ignored. Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are:
Heart beat that feels erratic
Heart beat does not feel normal
Sudden cardiac arrest risks
Some medical conditions put people more at risk of cardiac arrest. They include:
Heart attack history
Recovering from a heart attack, or the first six months after a heart attack
Coronary artery disease
Family history of heart disease
Other factors that put people at more risk of sudden cardiac arrest:
It is important to try to reduce your risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Talk to your provider about taking steps to quit smoking, eat a healthy diet and get exercise. Your provider may prescribe medications to treat certain medical conditions. Follow the directions for taking the medication.
Sudden cardiac arrest treatment
Call 911, if you see someone who is having sudden cardiac arrest. Start CPR. If done right, CPR can save the person’s life. CPR keeps blood and oxygen moving through the body until emergency help can arrive.
Use a defibrillation device if there is one available. With CPR and defibrillation, a person can be saved from sudden cardiac death.
Patients who survive sudden cardiac arrest will undergo tests to find the root cause. Tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray and other imaging tests
- Electrical system testing (electrophysiological test)