What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest


[tab title=’Definition’ active]

“Cardiac Arrest is the sudden, abrupt loss of heart function. The victim may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. It’s also called sudden cardiac arrest or unexpected cardiac arrest. Sudden death (also called sudden cardiac death) occurs within minutes after symptoms appear.

MostĀ cardiac arrests that lead to sudden death occur when the electrical impulses in the diseased heart become rapid (ventricular tachycardia) or chaotic (ventricular fibrillation) or both. This irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) causes the heart to suddenly stop beating effectively.”

American Heart Association AmericanHeart.org

[pullquote]For every minute that passes with a victim in SCA, there is a 10% less likelihood of survival[/pullquote]

Survival From Cardiac Arrest


[slide src=’https://heartaed.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/SCA_graph1.jpg’ url=’https://heartaed.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/SCA_graph1.jpg’]



[tab title=’Signs’]

Unconscious, Unresponsive and Stops Breathing Normally:

A victim in sudden cardiac arrest becomes unconscious, unresponsive and stops breathing normally. This is due to the lack of blood flow resulting from the chaotic heart rhythm.

Agonal Breathing:

“In the first few minutes after sudden cardiac arrest, a victim may gasp, gurgle, moan or have labored breathing.This is not normal breathing.”

American Heart Association HeartSaver AED Student Workbook Page 10

American Heart Association AmericanHeart.org

Convulsions or Seizures:

Eyewitness accounts of a sudden cardiac arrest sometimes include the victim experiencing seizure or convulsion activity. These reactions may occur as part of the brain’s reaction to the lack of oxygen.


[tab title=’Causes/Risk Factors’]

  • Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Heart Infection
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart)
  • Abnormal Heart Rhythms (i.e… long QT syndrome)
  • Commotio CordisĀ (Blow to Chest)
  • Respiratory Arrest
  • Electrocution
  • Drowning
  • Choking
  • Can also occur without any known cause.
    American Heart Association:


[tab title=’Combat SCA’]

American Heart Association “Chain of Survival”

  • Early Recognition and 911
  • Early CPR
  • Early Defibrillation
  • Early Advance Life Support Followed by Post-Resuscitation Cardiac Care