Ten Killer Facts about Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition where the heart suddenly stops beating. Without the heartbeat to pump it, oxygenated blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. If it is not treated within minutes, SCA typically causes death. However, CPR can double, or even triple, a victim’s chances of survival if it is administered properly. Here’s a list of facts about Sudden Cardiac Arrest and what you can do to help save lives.

1. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more than 350,000 lives each year.

2. An estimated 382,800 people experience sudden cardiac arrest in the United States each year.

3. Approximately 92% of those who experience sudden cardiac arrest do not survive.

4. SCA kills more than 1,000 people a day, or one person every 90 seconds, than the number of deaths each year from breast cancer, lung cancer, stroke or AIDS.

5. Cardiovascular disease attributable to SCA, where the heart abruptly and unexpectedly ceases to beat so that no blood can be pumped to the rest of the body.

6. The most common cause of SCA is a heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) called ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF is an “electrical problem” in the heart. Without immediate emergency help, death follows within minutes of an episode of ventricular fibrillation.

7. SCA most often occurs in patients with heart disease, especially those who have congestive heart failure and have had a heart attack.

8. It is estimated that 95 percent of victims who experience SCA die before they reach a hospital or some other source of emergency help.

9. As many as 75 percent of people who die of SCA show signs of a previous heart attack. Eighty percent have signs of coronary artery disease.

10. SCA is not a random event. Although it may occur in outwardly healthy people, most victims do have heart disease or other health problems, often without being aware of it.

Most victims of sudden cardiac arrest die because they are not able to get immediate medical help. However, CPR can keep oxygen-rich blood pumping through the body until emergency medical help can arrive. CPR training is something that anyone can learn and that everyone should learn. While it would be nice to be able to save the life of a stranger, statistics show that the life you save will most likely be that of a loved one.

References:

Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012;125:e2–e220.

MMWR Weekly July 29, 2011. Surveillance Summaries Vol. 60/No.8. Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Surveillance – Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES), United States, October 1, 2005 – December 31, 2010.

Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD. Deaths: Preliminary data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 60 no 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

Cleveland Clinic Heart Hub. Accessed September 26, 2012.http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/disorders/electric/scd.aspx

Fishman GI , Chugh SS , Dimarco JP , et al. Sudden Cardiac Death Prediction and Prevention. Report From a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Heart Rhythm Society Workshop. Circulation. 2010 Nov 30;122(22):2335-48.

Galea S, Blaney S, Nandi A, Silverman R, Vlahov D, Foltin G, Kusick M, Tunik M, Richmond N. Explaining racial disparities in incidence of and survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Am J Epidemiol. 2007; 166:534 –543.

Pell JP, Sirel JM, Marsden AK, et al. Presentation, management, and outcome of out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary arrest: comparison by underlying etiology. Heart.2003; 89:839-42. is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and most deaths from it are