Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a medical emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. It is caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart that disrupts its pumping action, stopping blood flow to the rest of the body.
Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, with over 350,000 people dying yearly. SCA can happen to anyone, at any age, and at any time. However, it is most common in people with underlying heart disease, such as coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and congenital heart defects. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and a family history of SCA.
When Sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the person will suddenly collapse and become unresponsive. They may also experience shortness of breath, chest pain, and loss of consciousness. If not treated immediately, SCA can lead to death within minutes.
The only effective treatment for Sudden cardiac arrest is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) combined with an automated external defibrillator (AED).
CPR helps to circulate oxygenated blood to the brain and other organs, while an AED delivers an electric shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm. Immediate medical attention is essential for anyone experiencing Sudden cardiac arrest. Call 911 immediately and begin CPR until help arrives if you suspect someone has a cardiac arrest.