What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and Could I Be at Risk?

Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: August 10, 2020

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Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) has made a lot of recent appearances in the news lately, especially after a 17-year-old varsity tennis captain passed away from cardiac arrest in California earlier this week. How does an athletic, active, and incredibly young girl, in seemingly perfect health, pass away so suddenly? The truth is that instances like this are incredibly rare, and usually the result of a chronic heart condition that a person isn’t even aware that they have until it is too late. However, while instances of sudden cardiac arrest affecting young people are very rare, sudden cardiac arrest should be a very real and very serious concern for anyone over a certain age or for anyone with certain pre-existing conditions.

SCA is different from a heart attack, though the two terms are sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably. In a heart attack, the heart’s blood supply is blocked or reduced, causing injury to the heart muscle, and, in the worst cases, death. In SCA, the heart suddenly stops beating and blood flow through the body is completely halted. While someone experiencing a heart attack usually remains awake enough to report symptoms and seek help, a person experiencing SCA will lose consciousness, sometimes after a brief period of seizure while gasping for breath. SCA is currently a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40, with over 1,000 incidents reported each day.

Because a person experiencing SCA will lose the flow of blood and oxygen to their brain, it is absolutely essential that they receive CPR within 3-5 minutes of collapse and that they are treated with defibrillators as quickly as possible. Because immediate action is so important in the case of SCA, effective and prompt aid from bystanders is usually the most important factor affecting a person’s chances of surviving SCA.

Due to the very sudden nature of SCA, it’s impossible to predict when and where SCA could occur, and even in whom specifically it might occur. Your best options in preventing this terrible event from ever happening are to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. Some ways you can do this:

  • Stay physically active and exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid cigarettes and excessive alcohol use.

Other factors that can influence a person’s risk for SCA are recreational drug use (specifically stimulants, even caffeine), electrocution, panic and anxiety, or a sudden blow to the chest that could disrupt the heart’s normal rhythm.

People with certain pre-existing conditions should also closely monitor themselves, and check in with their physicians regularly. Some people that may be pre-disposed to SCA include:

  • Those who have had previous heart attacks.
  • Those with heart rhythm or heart valve disorders.
  • Those who experience fainting spells.
  • Those with a history of heart failure or any form of coronary disease.

For many people, SCA is the first outward indication that a heart condition exists, but with the SCA survival rate only being at 10%, the first indication is too often the last.

If you are over the age of forty, have any pre-existing heart conditions, or have a family history of heart disease or heart failure, then please check in with your physician at Tampa Cardio. While prediction is impossible, prevention is key, and the experienced physicians at Tampa Cardio are dedicated to keeping your heart healthy through evaluation, heart-healthy lifestyle tips, and, if necessary, any treatment options that may be right for you.



Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: 10/08/2020

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