According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association
, only eight percent of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) survive. Understanding the symptoms of SCA and how to respond during such an emergency can save a life.
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Oftentimes, SCA is confused with a heart attack. They're two very different things. SCA is a sudden and deadly change in the heart's rhythm, whereas a heart attack blocks blood flow to the heart.
Fainting is usually the first sign of SCA, along with an absent pulse. Just before someone faints, a person suffering from SCA may experience a racing heart, feel dizzy, have chest pain, become nauseated or throw up.
SCA, as the name implies, happens without warning and requires emergency treatment. Most importantly, the heartbeat needs to be restored within minutes of SCA or the person will die. Bystanders should call 911 immediately. CPR
should then be performed if an automated external defibrillator (AED) isn't available. AED's can often be found in public places; they safely send an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heart rhythm.
If someone suffers from a SCA, the underlying cause should be determined in order to prevent future occurrences. Depending on the cause, several preventative treatment options are available, including:
Lowering Your Risk
If you're at risk for SCA, there are things you can do to decrease your risk, including:
- Stay physically fit
- Don't smoke
- Consume alcohol in moderation
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables
- See your doctor for treatment of any existing heart conditions
The following tests can be performed to help detect risk factors for SCA: