More than 350,000 deaths occur each year as a result of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). In fact, SCA claims one life every two minutes, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer, or AIDS. To decrease the death toll from SCA, it is important to understand what SCA is, what warning signs are, and how to respond and prevent SCA from occurring.
More than 65 percent of Americans not only underestimate the seriousness of SCA, but also believe SCA is a type of heart attack. But that is like comparing apples and oranges.
SCA Awareness Month represents a critical initiative by the Heart Rhythm Society to raise awareness for SCA and help the public become more familiar with what it is, how it affects people, and what can be done to help save lives.
The Society's award-winning "Apples and Oranges" campaign uses a simple analogy to educate people about the difference between a heart attack and SCA. The campaign targets heart attack survivors, who are at the highest risk for SCA, and stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy heart lifestyle and learning critical risk markers, especially their Ejection Fraction (EF).
Responding to SCA — Time is Everything
Time-to-treatment is critical when considering the chance of survival for an SCA victim. Ninety-five percent of those who experience SCA die because they do not receive life-saving defibrillation within four to six minutes, before brain and permanent death start to occur. But many people do not know how to respond when someone experiences SCA.
The Heart Rhythm Society advises the following actions in response to a potential SCA emergency:
AEDs are increasingly available at public locations, such as airports, gyms, and office buildings. Despite common concerns that these devices can hurt the victim, shock a victim when he or she does not need a shock, or shocking or hurting oneself while treating the victim, these devices will only deliver a shock when an irregular heart rhythm is detected.
The SCA Risk Assessment is an interactive tool designed to help individuals estimate their risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a common cardiac arrhythmia that can occur abruptly and without warning. In fact, two-thirds of SCA deaths occur without any prior indications of heart disease. SCA can happen to people of all ages and health conditions.
Learn your risk by using this online tool! It’s fast and easy — simply answer a few questions regarding your health and get your results. After you have finished using the SCA Risk Assessment, please consult with your physician regarding your results.
The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Initiative is supported in part by educational grants from Boston Scientific and Zoll.