Sudden Cardiac Arrest Explained
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is when the heart stops beating, Suddenly and Unexpectedly. When this happens, blood stops flowing to the Brain, and other Vital organs. SCA is NOT a Heart Attack. A heart Attack is a plumbing problem, caused by a blockage that stops the flow of blood to the Heart. SCA is a malfunction in the Hearts Electrical System, causing the victim to collapse. This malfunction can be caused by a congenital or genetic defect in the Heart’s structure or even a viral infection.
Who is at Risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
SCA is the leading cause of Death in Young Athletes, and is more likely to occur during exercise or physical activity… but it also affects young people NOT involved in organized sports, and is fatal if not treated within minutes. Thousands of our youth die each year due to an undetected Heart Condition that could have been prevented with a simple Cardiac Screening. These deaths leave behind a huge and devastating impact on families and communities, and ALTHOUGH THERE COULD BE NO SYMPTOMS AND NO WARNINGS… there ARE ways to help identify risk factors that can help prevent these tragedies.
Know the Possible Warning Signs
- Fainting or Seizure, especially during/after exercise
- Fainting repeatedly or with excitement or startle (Fainting is the #1 sign of a potential Heart Condition)
- Excessive shortness of breath during exercise
- Racing or fluttering heart palpitations / irregular Heart Beat
- Repeated dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest pain or discomfort with exercise
- Excessive, unexpected fatigue during or after exercise
Up to 49% of SCA Victims have a Significant Family History… do you know yours? These Factors Increase the Risk of SCA
- Family History of heart abnormalities or sudden death before age 50
- Specific family history of Long QT Syndrome, Brugada Syndrome, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) or Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD)
- Family members with unexplained fainting, seizures, drowning / near drowning
- Known structural Heart Abnormalities
- Use of drugs, excessive energy drinks, diet pills or performance-enhancing supplements
What Can YOU Do to Protect Young Hearts?
- Talk with your Son or Daughter about potential warning signs and check your Family Tree for Risk Factors.
- Get regular Well-child visits and Sports Physicals, and discuss any Warning Signs and Risk Factors with your Primary Care Physician Immediately.
- Know where AEDs are at your School, your Church, or anywhere you may be with your Children.
- Know the Cardiac Chain of Survival.
What is the Cardiac Chain of Survival?
Every minute delayed in attending to an SCA victim decreases the chance of survival by 10%. When they collapse, BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY!
- Recognition of Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Collapsed and Unresponsive. They are NOT breathing, even if you hear gasping, gurgling, snorting, moaning or labored breathing noises, or see seizure-like activity.
- CALL 911
If at an athletic event or practice, know WHERE you have the best reception and are able to call for help. Do not lose precious minutes trying to wake them up… ACT IMMEDIATELY!
- Perform Hands-Only CPR
Hands-only CPR involves hard, fast, and continual two-inch chest compressions in the center of the chest, about 100 per minute. CPR can be a bridge to life until the AED arrives.
- Retrieve an AED
Automated External Defibrillator. Whether at school, at a game, at the park…Know the location of the AED and use it as soon as possible when SCA occurs. Mobile AED units have step-by-step instructions for a bystander to use in emergency situations – you do not need to be a Medical Professional to use an AED.
- Direct EMS to the Scene
Send a bystander to wait for Emergency Services to arrive and lead them to where the SCA victim is.
What is an AED?
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE A SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST VICTIM! An AED is a portable, user-friendly device that automatically diagnoses potentially life-threatening heart rhythms, and delivers an electrical shock to restore normal rhythm. Anyone can operate an AED, regardless of training, however, we do suggest ALL Schools and Athletic Clubs be prepared for SCA by having regular drills with teachers, staff, coaches and athletic trainers … just as you would have fire drills. QUICK ACTION CAN SAVE A LIFE!