Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is death caused by a cardiac arrest. SCD is the largest cause of natural death in the U.S. resulting in 325,000 adult deaths per year. A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart cannot beat normally. The most common cause is ventricular fibrillation or v-fib. In v-fib the large chamber of the heart (ventricle) beats chaotically and is unable to pump blood to the body and brain causing the patient to collapse. Starting CPR immediately is number one determinant of a patient surviving a cardiac arrest.
Just prior to cardiac arrest patients may experience light headiness, breathing problems, chest pain, and fainting. Some patients have no warning signs.
Cardiac arrest can be treated but therapy must begin immediately after the event for the best result. 911 should be called and CPR should be started. New recommendations from the American Heart Association emphasize hands only CPR consisting of calling 911 and pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives. Here is more information and a video demonstrating the recommended technique: http: handsonlycpr.org . If available an AED (Ambulatory External Defibrillator) should be used since most cases of cardiac arrest are caused by an abnormal beating of the heart called ventricular fibrillation, and an external shock from an AED given as soon as possible can save a life. It is the combination of immediate CPR and AED use that gives the patient the greatest chance of success.
Extensive cardiac testing will be done to determine the cause of the cardiac arrest.
Other Specific Tests:
echo cardiogram, coronary angiography