About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

The Condition
  • Almost 400,000 people in the U.S. suffer Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) each year and less than 10% survive.
  • SCA occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.
  • At any one time, an estimated 20% of the U.S. population congregates on school grounds, increasing the likelihood of school-based cardiac emergencies.
  • In children and adolescents, the causes of SCA are varied and include heart conditions that result from abnormal heart structure or function, primarily electrical abnormalities and outside factors such as a sudden blow to the chest or drug use.
  • Up to six per 100,000 children in the United States experience SCA each year; approximately 25% occur during sporting events.
  • A victim of SCA will often complain of feeling faint or dizzy, usually during or just after exercise. They will rapidly lose consciousness and may gasp for breath for a short time.
The Treatments
  • Victims of SCA can be assisted by providing chest compressions and early defibrillation with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
  • Every second counts. When SCA occurs, chest compressions need to start immediately and an AED applied as soon as possible.
  • Survival rates decrease by 10% with each minute of delay.
  • There is a 5-6 minute window before death or irreparable brain damage occurs.
  • An AED is very easy to use. Just turn it on and follow the voice prompts.
  • An AED is safe and will only deliver a shock if it is needed.
  • An AED can only help if it is used.
The Symptoms below indicate that Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) may be about to happen. 
  • Racing heart, palpitations
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Fainting or seizure, especially during or right after exercise
  • Fainting repeatedly or with excitement or startle
  • Chest pain or discomfort with exercise
  • Excessive, unexpected fatigue during or after exercise
  • Excessive shortness of breath during exercise
The following factors increase the risk of  Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA):
  • Family history of known heart abnormalities or sudden death before age 50
  • Specifiic family history of long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD)
  • Family members with unexplained fainting, seizures, drowning or near drowning, or car accidents
  • Known structural heart abnormality, repaired or unrepaired
  • Use of drugs such as cocaine, inhalants, or “recreational” drugs