Everyone knows about heart attack … but few know about a condition
called Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Or, if they have heard the term, they think
it’s the same as a heart attack.
It isn’t. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle
is slowed or blocked. Sudden Cardiac Arrest occurs when the heart stops
beating, suddenly and without warning. If this happens, blood flow to
the brain and other vital organs stops. SCA is caused by a structural
or electrical problem in the heart. It can also be brought about by an
infection or severe blow to the chest.
SCA is a leading cause of death in the U.S., responsible for more than
350,000 deaths each year. Anyone can experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest,
including infants, children, teens, young adults and people in their 30s
and 40s who have no sign of heart disease, as well as more mature adults.
Only 5 percent of people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest outside the
hospital setting survive.
To survive SCA, the victim must receive life-saving defibrillation from
an automated external defibrillator (AED) within the first four to six
minutes. Every minute that passes without a shock from an AED cuts the
chance of survival by 10 percent. Hands-only CPR can be a bridge to life
until an AED arrives.
Risk factors for heart rhythm disorders, including SCA:
- Coronary artery disease (blockages in the arteries that serve the heart muscle)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High-fat diet
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Drug abuse
- Family history of heart disease
- Advancing age
- Sleep apnea
- Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications, dietary supplements
and herbal remedies
King’s Daughters heart team includes specially trained cardiologists
electrophysiologists – who specialize in the treatment of the electrical system of the
heart. Our EP physicians see patients in Ashland, Grayson, Louisa, and
Prestonsburg, Ky., and in Portsmouth, Ohio.
The Heart Rhythm Society has put together a brief online risk assessment
which can be found at