What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

The 2006 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association/Heart Rhythm Society document defined SCA as a sudden cessation of cardiac activity so that the victim becomes unresponsive, with no normal breathing and no signs of circulation. If correction measures are not taken rapidly, this condition progresses to sudden death.


SCA is a most commonly caused by rapid acceleration of the heart electrical activity (ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia) originating from the lower chambers of the heart (Ventricles) . When SCA occurs, blood stops flowing to the brain, the heart, and the rest of the body, and the person collapses. In fact, the victim is clinically dead and will remain so unless someone helps immediately.


Is SCA the same as Heart attack?


Sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack (also called acute myocardial infarction). The latter occurs when one of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries) gets blocked. The part of the heart receiving blood from that artery is damaged. Heart attacks are usually due to a condition called “coronary artery disease” where fatty deposits called plaques form on the walls of the coronary arteries. A break in one of those plaques can cause a blood clot to form, blocking the artery and preventing blood from reaching parts of the heart muscle.


People having a heart attack often experience discomfort, pain or pressure in the chest area expanding sometimes to the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath; nausea, vomiting, heartburn or burping; sweating or clammy skin; racing heartbeat; feeling dizzy or lightheaded.


Even though heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest are two different entities, heart attacks (acute myocardial infarctions) and/or the resulting damage affecting the heart muscle (ischemic heart disease) account for as much as 70% of all SCAs. Therefore preventing SCA should entail strategies to prevent coronary artery disease and appropriately detect and treat heart attacks.

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