sudden cardiac arrest key facts
Sudden Cardiac Arrest – Key Facts
Sudden Cardiac Arrest – Statistics
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Key Facts
- Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the United States,
accounting for an estimated 325,000 deaths each year
- In SCA, the heart abruptly and unexpectedly ceases to function (cardiac arrest). It is an "electrical problem" caused by a heart rhythm disorder called Ventricular Fibrillation (VF). In SCA, the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body.
- SCA is NOT a heart attack - a condition technically known as a myocardial infarction (MI). MI is a "plumbing problem" in which a blockage in a blood vessel interrupts the flow of blood to the heart causing an "infarct" - an area of dead heart muscle. SCA may, however, occur in association with a heart attack.
- VF occurs when the electrical signals that control the pumping ability (contractions) of the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) suddenly become rapid and chaotic. The ventricles begin to quiver and can not longer pump blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
- SCA is NOT a random event. Although it may occur in outwardly healthy people, most victims DO have heart disease or other health problems, often without being aware of it.
- Without emergency help, SCA leads to death within minutes.
- Victims of cardiac arrest can be saved if a defibrillator device is immediately available to deliver an electric shock to restore the heart to its normal rhythm.
- People who are at high risk for SCA may be treated with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), devices that are implanted under the skin. ICDs monitor the heart's rhythm and automatically deliver a short, high-energy shock when the individual develops an irregular heart rhythm that may lead to SCA.
- Studies have shown that ICDs are the best way to prevent cardiac arrest in certain groups of patients who are at high risk.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Statistics
- Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming an estimated 325,000 lives each year.
- SCA kills 1,000 people a day or one person every two minutes.
- SCA most often occurs in patients with heart disease, especially those who have congestive heart failure and have had a heart attack.1
- It is estimated that 95 percent of victims of cardiac arrest die before they reach a hospital or other source of emergency help.
- As many as 75 percent of people who die of SCA show signs of a previous heart attack. Eighty percent have signs of coronary artery disease.
- SCAs accounted for 10,460 (75.4 percent) of all 13,873 cardiac disease deaths in persons aged 35-44 years, and the proportion of cardiac arrests that occurred out-of-hospital increased with age, from 5.8 percent in persons aged 0-4 years to 61.0 percent in persons aged >85 years.2
- SCAs accounted for 63.7 percent of all cardiac arrests among whites, 62.3 percent among African Americans, 59.8 percent among American Indians/Alaska Natives, 55.8 percent among Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 54.2 percent among Hispanics. Whites had the highest proportion of cardiac arrests out-of-hospital, and African Americans had the highest proportion of cardiac arrests in an Emergency Department or dead on arrival.3
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths from sudden cardiac arrest increased 10 percent (from 2,719 in 1989 to 3,000 in 1996) in people between the ages of 15 and 34. In young women, the death rate from SCA increased 30 percent. African Americans are more likely to die from SCA than whites.
- Wisconsin, Idaho, and Utah have the highest percentage of cardiac arrests.4