Get Educated on Sudden Cardiac Arrest in October

A medical image is shown of a person's body with imaging depicting the heart organ. The text overlaid reads "Sudden Cardiac Arrest Month October" with the Mobile Heart Specialists logo at the top right.

In 2008, Congress declared October as National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Month. According to Stop Cardiac Arrest, sudden cardiac arrest (SAC) is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing more than 356,000 deaths per year. It’s important to educate yourself on the signs of SAC, the differences between SAC and a heart attack, and how to help someone if they are experiencing SAC.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

SCA occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart. [Source: American Heart Association] Because cardiac arrest stops the heart from beating, it can’t get blood to other important organs such as the brain and lungs. It can take just seconds or minutes for a person to die from SAC if they aren’t treated immediately. 

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

There are many causes for cardiac arrest including electrical malfunctions in the heart, scarring of heart tissue, thickened heart muscles, heart medications, recreational drug use and more.

Is Cardiac Arrest a Heart Attack?

NO! Heart attacks are caused when something, like a clot, is impeding blood flow to the heart whereas cardiac arrest is caused by a structural or electrical problem. Typically, those who suffer SAC have an underlying, undetected heart condition or an infection. When someone is having a heart attack they are still breathing, experience pain beforehand, don’t need CPR if responsive and are typically over the age of 35. When someone is undergoing SAC, they stop breathing, experience shaking similar to a seizure, and need CPR immediately. SAC can also happen to anyone at any age. 

What to Do if Someone is Experiencing Cardiac Arrest

The survival rate for SAC is less than 10%. Because of this, every single moment counts. First, if you are near someone experiencing SAC, call 911 immediately. From there, begin administering hands-only CPR. This will triple someone’s chance of survival. If you have access to an automated external defibrillator (AED), use it. If an AED is used within a minute of the collapse, the person’s rate of survival increases to 90%. [Source: Stop Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is deadly and can strike anyone, no matter how healthy they seem. Because of this, it’s important to get educated about SAC so that you can lower your risks and be able to help someone experiencing SAC. 

As always, if you have questions about SAC or your personal heart health, we recommend you request an appointment with one of our doctors.

American Heart Association`
Stop Cardiac Arrest