October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. It's an initiative by the Heart Rhythm Society to raise awareness for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and to help you become more familiar with what it is, how it affects people, and what can be done to help save lives. In fact, there are many misconceptions about the condition, including many people mistaking it for a heart attack, but there is one distinct difference.
According to the Society, 65 percent of Americans not only underestimate the seriousness of SCA, but also believe SCA is a type of heart attack. In fact, SCA is responsible for one death every two minutes, In fact, it kills more people each year than breast cancer, lung cancer, or AIDS.
So, let's look at some facts about sudden cardiac arrest that you can share with people during Sudden Cardiac Arrest Month.
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
According to the American Heart Association a heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem.
But these two distinct heart conditions are linked. Sudden cardiac arrest can occur after a heart attack, or during recovery. Let's look at some other facts about sudden cardiac arrest that you may or may not know.
Sudden Cardiac Awareness Facts
- Sudden cardiac arrest is most often caused by ventricular fibrillation (VF)--an abnormal heart rhythm.
- Cardiac arrest can also occur after the onset of a heart attack or as a result of electrocution or near-drowning.
- Recognizing the signs: When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the victim collapses, becomes unresponsive to gentle shaking, stops normal breathing and after two rescue breaths, still isn’t breathing normally, coughing or moving.
- Death from sudden cardiac arrest is not inevitable. If more people knew CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), more lives could be saved.
- About 80 percent of all cardiac arrests (outside of a hospital) occur at home, so being trained to perform CPR can mean saving the life of a loved one.
- Effective CPR, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can double a victim’s chance of survival.
- CPR helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain and increases the amount of time that an electric shock from a defibrillator can be effective.
- Brain death starts to occur four to six minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest if no CPR and defibrillation occurs during that time.
- If bystander CPR is not provided, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival fall 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute of delay until defibrillation.
- There are 294,851 emergency medical services-treated out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the United States.
Learning CPR can give your loved one time to receive needed immediate care in a hospital emergency department and be seen by a cardiologist. North Ohio Heart provides state-of-the-art cardiology services. However, we believe that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Make an appointment today, so we can help you prevent the need for emergency services.
Or, take a look at our guide "Heart Disease Facts." It spells out the signs and treatments for a number of conditions related to heart disease.