October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, so please join us in spreading the word about the serious implications of Sudden Cardiac Arrest!
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system, which causes it suddenly and unexpectedly to begin to beat rapidly, then erratically, and finally to stop altogether. When this happens, the heart cannot pump blood effectively. As such, blood flow to the brain is compromised and the victim quickly loses consciousness.
SCA strikes almost six million people a year around the world. With a survival rate of five percent or less, SCA is responsible for more deaths than breast cancer, lung cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined. It occurs abruptly and without warning, with 84 percent of SCA events occurring away from a healthcare setting.
In the event of SCA, time is critical. An American Heart Association study showed that for every minute defibrillation is delayed, the victim’s chance of survival decreases by seven to ten percent. After 10 minutes, typical SCA survival rates could potentially drop to zero without any intervention. With ambulance response rates typically beyond the 10-minute target, the most likely lifesaving scenario remains in the hands of bystanders.
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can be used by minimally trained bystanders to increase the survival rate for SCA up to 75 percent by delivering a lifesaving shock within the first few minutes of an attack. These portable devices can be found in public places, such as shopping malls, golf courses, businesses, airports, airplanes, casinos, convention centers, hotels, sports venues, and schools. However, AEDs are still not widely available.
What is defibrillation?
Defibrillation is the delivery of lifesaving electrical energy to the heart during an abnormal rhythm. Electrical energy is passed through the heart from electrodes placed on the chest and can help restore a natural sinus rhythm.
Is SCA the same as a heart attack?
No. A heart attack is when a blockage in an artery results in a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle, ultimately causing damage. Heart attack victims may experience chest pain and usually remain conscious. Heart attacks are serious and can lead to SCA. However, SCA may occur independently from a heart attack and without warning. SCA can result in death if not treated immediately.
What can you do to help?
- Inform your friends, family, and community about SCA
- Get CPR/AED trained and certified
- Help AEDs become more accessible by spreading the word
- Create an AED fundraiser in your community, such as a bake sale
- Engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
Click here to learn more about SCA.