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Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Who Is At Risk?

 

Almost half of heart-related disease deaths are caused by sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is responsible for thousands of adult deaths worldwide. This deadly disease is due to heart malfunctioning and frequently affects adults in their mid-30s to mid-40s.

Men can have almost twice the risk of having sudden cardiac arrest when compared to women. It rarely occurs in children, as studies have shown that it occurs in one out of 100,000 children per year.

Sudden cardiac arrest ensues when the heart suddenly beats irregularly and when the heart’s electrical system does not function normally. There will be decreased blood flow to other parts of the body, the ventricles may flutter or quiver (ventricular fibrillation), and the heart may beat dangerously fast.

These signs and symptoms can reduce blood flow to the brain and can cause the individual to lose consciousness. It can result to sudden death if not immediately treated.

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and defibrillation are the primary emergency treatments to maintain adequate oxygenation in the body. Defibrillation can also restore normal heart rhythm and can save the life of the affected person.

What are the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest can initially present with racing heartbeats and dizziness. Problems in heart rhythm can also lead to cardiac arrest. However, it can sometimes occur without prior symptoms.

What causes sudden cardiac death?

Most sudden cardiac deaths are caused by abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Ventricular fibrillation is the most common life-threatening arrhythmia, which is an unstable, irregular discharge of impulses from the ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers). When this happens, the heart is unable to pump blood and sudden death will occur, if not treated immediately.

Risk Factors

There are two important risk factors that makes a person prone to have sudden cardiac arrest that leads to sudden cardiac death:

  • Previous heart attack: Almost 75% of SCD is due to a previous heart attack.
  • Coronary artery disease: Factors such as a family history of cardiovascular disease, smoking, high cholesterol levels or an enlarged heart can make someone at high risk of SCD by 80%.

Other risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Abnormal ejection fraction
  • Family history of sudden cardiac arrest or SCD
  • History of any heart problems
  • History of syncope or fainting
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Obesity
  • Previous experience of sudden cardiac arrest
  • Recreational drug abuse
  • Significant changes of potassium and magnesium in blood vessels
  • Taking drugs that are “pro-arrhythmic”
  • Ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation

Take charge of your health now! Visit your doctor to seek medical advice on how to prevent sudden cardiac arrest!

 

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-Medical Observer

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