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Sudden Cardiac Arrest

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 300,000 lives each year.

During a sudden cardiac arrest, heart function ceases abruptly and without warning. When this occurs, the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body, and in some 95 percent of victims, death occurs.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

While Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a significant public health crisis, it is often misunderstood. SCA is not a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when a blood vessel becomes blocked and interrupts blood flow to the heart, causing heart muscle to die.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating. Most of these deaths occur with little or no warning, from a syndrome called sudden cardiac arrest. The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest is a disturbance in the heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation.

How can I prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

The devastating effects of sudden cardiac arrest can be prevented. For individuals identified as at high risk, preventative treatments include both drug therapies and medical devices called implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).

It's also important to know your risks for SCA. Here are some common questions you and your physician can answer to understand your risks:

  • Have you had a sudden cardiac arrest?
  • Has a blood relative died suddenly due to known or suspected heart disease (or been diagnosed with a condition associated with sudden death)?
  • Have you had a heart attack (myocardial infarction), coronary angioplasty (balloon) or stent, heart bypass surgery, or been diagnosed with coronary artery disease?
  • Do you have, or has your physician ever said you have congestive heart failure?
  • Have you or a family member ever blacked out, almost blacked out or lost consciousness?
  • Has you physician ever said that your ejection fraction is abnormal or less than 40%? Your ejection fraction (EF) is a measure of how well your heart pumps blood.

Learn more about Sudden Cardiac Arrest and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association.

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John R. Burg MD Cardiac Center

For an appointment or for more information: 406-238-2000 or 1-800-332-7156


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