Understanding Sudden Cardiac Arrest: How to Predict and Prevent It.

November 8th, 2023

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a serious condition where the heart suddenly stops beating. It’s a leading cause of heart-related deaths, and many people who have it don’t even know they’re at risk.

SCA happens when your heart goes haywire, and you pass out, stop breathing, and your heart stops beating. If not treated right away, it can be deadly.

Signs of SCA can be dramatic: you suddenly faint, lose your pulse, and stop breathing. Sometimes, you might feel weak, have a fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, dizziness, or even pass out before SCA hits. If you have any of these symptoms, especially if you have a history of heart problems, see a doctor right away.

When SCA occurs, it’s a race against time. The lack of oxygen can damage your brain, and you might not survive if your heart doesn’t start beating again soon. It’s usually caused by a severe heart rhythm problem called ventricular fibrillation.

Here’s a quick summary of important points:

What can lead to SCA:

  • Heart problems like Coronary Heart Disease
  • Heart attacks
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
  • Weakened heart muscles (cardiomyopathy)
  • Valve problems
  • Birth defects in the heart
  • A condition called Long QT Syndrome
  • High stress and anger
  • And many more risk factors

How doctors can predict SCA:

  • By checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other factors
  • Special heart tests like ECG
  • Monitoring your heart rhythm
  • Checking for other medical conditions that could trigger SCA

What to do if SCA happens:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Start CPR by pushing hard and fast on the chest
  • Use a device called an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) if available
  • Doctors may use medicines or even surgery to help your heart

Preventing SCA:

  • Keep an eye on your health, like your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Take medicines your doctor prescribes
  • Get a small device called an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) if your doctor recommends it
  • Make heart-healthy choices, like a balanced diet and regular exercise

After a heart attack:

  • Be extra cautious during the first 30 days, as the risk of SCA is higher

In the end, while SCA can be scary, there are ways to predict and prevent it. Staying on top of your health, recognizing symptoms, and seeking help can make a big difference. Researchers are still learning more about SCA, so there’s hope for even better ways to keep your heart safe.

written by: Dr Dorel Dimcea, PhD Cardiologist at WeCare Medical Centre