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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness

Source: Mayo Clinic 

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the sudden loss of all heart activity due to an irregular heart rhythm. Breathing stops. The person becomes unconscious. Without immediate treatment, sudden cardiac arrest can lead to death. 

Emergency treatment for sudden cardiac arrest includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and shocks to the heart with a device called an automated external defibrillator (AED). Survival is possible with fast, appropriate medical care. 

Sudden cardiac arrest isn't the same as a heart attack. A heart attack happens when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked. Sudden cardiac arrest is not due to a blockage. However, a heart attack can cause a change in the heart's electrical activity that leads to sudden cardiac arrest. 


Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest are immediate and severe and include: 

  • Sudden collapse. 

  • No pulse. 

  • No breathing. 

  • Loss of consciousness. 

Sometimes other symptoms occur before sudden cardiac arrest. These might include: 

  • Chest discomfort. 

  • Shortness of breath. 

  • Weakness. 

  • Fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart called palpitations. 

But sudden cardiac arrest often occurs with no warning. 

When to see a doctor 

When the heart stops, the lack of oxygen-rich blood can quickly cause death or permanent brain damage. 

Call 911 or emergency medical services for these symptoms: 

  • Chest pain or discomfort. 

  • Feeling of a pounding heartbeat. 

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats. 

  • Unexplained wheezing. 

  • Shortness of breath. 

  • Fainting or near fainting. 

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness. 

If you see someone who's unconscious and not breathing, call 911 or local emergency services. Then start CPR. The American Heart Association recommends doing CPR with hard and fast chest compressions. Use an automated external defibrillator, called an AED, if one is available. 

How to do CPR 

Do CPR if the person isn't breathing. Push hard and fast on the person's chest — about 100 to 120 pushes a minute. If you've been trained in CPR, check the person's airway. Then deliver rescue breaths after every 30 compressions. 

If you haven't been trained, just continue chest compressions. Allow the chest to rise completely between compressions. Keep doing this until an AED is available or emergency workers arrive. 

Portable automated external defibrillators, called AEDs, are available in many public places, including airports and shopping malls. You can also buy one for home use. AEDs come with step-by-step voice instructions for their use. They're programmed to allow a shock only when appropriate. 

Risk factors 

The same things that increase the risk of heart disease can raise the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. These include: 

  • A family history of coronary artery disease. 

  • Smoking. 

  • High blood pressure. 

  • High blood cholesterol. 

  • Obesity. 

  • Diabetes. 

  • An inactive lifestyle. 

Other things that might increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest include: 

  • A previous episode of sudden cardiac arrest or a family history of it. 

  • A previous heart attack. 

  • A personal or family history of other forms of heart disease such as heart rhythm problems, heart failure and heart problems present at birth. 

  • Growing older — the risk of sudden cardiac arrest increases with age. 

  • Being male. 

  • Using illegal drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines. 

  • Low potassium or magnesium levels. 

  • A sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. 

  • Chronic kidney disease. 


Keeping the heart healthy may help prevent sudden cardiac arrest. You can do this by: 

  • Eating healthy. 

  • Getting regular checkups. 

  • Not smoking or using tobacco. 

  • Being screened for heart disease. 

  • Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. 

Talk to your primary healthcare provider about a referral to Campbell County Medical Group Cardiology and check up on your heart health today! Call 307.688.6000. 

  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Cardiology, Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine, Campbell County Memorial Hospital, Cardiac Rehab, CCH News, CCMG News, CCMH News, Emergency Department, Health News