October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

Posted by Natasha Russell on Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Think Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a Heart Attack? That's Like Comparing Apples and Oranges.

 Sudden Cardiac Arrest 
 By Heart Rhythm Society 
Edited For Country Relevance by Natasha E. Russell

More than 250,000 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 the symptoms and warning signs are, and how to respond and prevent SCA from occurring.

More than 70 percent of Americans not only underestimate the seriousness of SCA, but also believe SCA is a type of heart attack. But that is like comparingapples and oranges.

October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

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).

Join HRS in promoting SCA Awareness

Responding to SCA — Time is Everything

Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)

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:

  1. Know the signs of SCA in order to react quickly. SCA strikes immediately and without warning. Victims will fall to the ground/collapse, become unresponsive, and will not breathe normally, if at all
  2. Call 911 or 119 as soon as possible
  3. Start CPR as quickly as possible. Bystanders should provide high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast (approximately 100 beats per minute) in the middle of the victim’s chest, with minimal interruptions. (Note: Hands-only CPR is proven to be just as effective)
  4. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) if one is available on site

AEDs should be 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.

Managing Director, CARDIOVMEDS

I have been working in the field of Cardiology and open heart surgery since 1991. I worked first as a perfusionist, then as a cardiovascular technologist. My duties have included working in the cardiac cathetherisation lab, analysising the 24-48 hour ambulatory ECG ( holter), assisting with various diagnostic tests. I have also worked as administrator of the paediatric cardiac surgery program. Key achievements have been presentation at the Caribbean Cardiac Conference on topics such as: Diagnosing Right Ventricular Infarction : The role of the technician Familial Atrial Fibrillation (FAF) Revealed