Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What It Is and What Causes It

Doing CPR first aid to man with heart attack part of the resuscitation process, Close up shot with vintage picture style.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a medical emergency that happens when the heart suddenly stops beating. If not treated immediately, it can lead to death. While it can happen to anyone at any age, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. In this blog post, we’ll explore what SCA is, what causes it, and how you can prevent it.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops abruptly and unexpectedly. When this happens, blood flow to the brain and other organs stops, and the person collapses. Within seconds, they lose consciousness and stop breathing. Without immediate CPR and medical treatment, sudden cardiac arrest can be fatal.

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

There are many potential causes of SCA. The most common cause is an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. This condition occurs when the electrical impulses that control heartbeats become erratic, causing the heart to beat erratically and chaotically. Other potential causes include electrical shock, drowning, suffocation, drug overdose, extreme emotional stress, and physical exertion.

Certain medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea can also put you at higher risk for SCA. People with these conditions are more likely to experience an abnormal heart rhythm. Additionally, family history plays a role; if someone in your family has experienced a cardiac arrest, you’re more likely to experience it as well.

How to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of SCA. If you have any of the medical conditions that we mentioned earlier—heart disease, diabetes, or sleep apnea—make sure to see your doctor regularly and follow their recommendations for treatment. If you have a family history of SCA, talk to your doctor about your risk factors and what you can do to reduce them.

You can also make lifestyle changes that will help lower your risk. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, managing stress levels, quitting smoking, and avoiding drugs and excessive alcohol consumption are all good ways to keep your heart healthy.

SCA is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. While it can happen to anyone at any age, there are certain risk factors that increase your chances of experiencing it. By understanding what sudden cardiac arrest is and what causes it, you can take steps to prevent it from happening to you or someone you love.

Written by BlaireWritten by Blaire Czarniecki
Customer Service Director

Blaire graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology- Child and Family Studies. She has been in the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) industry for over eight years and is the Director of Customer Service. Blaire is also an American Red Cross certified CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor, highly trained by each manufacturer on their specific AEDs, and knowledgeable regarding ALL State AED regulations and legislation.“Every day I come to work, I know I am playing a part in saving someone’s life. I’m passionate about these devices and am always looking for new and innovative ways to spread awareness and knowledge about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). I look forward to the day when everywhere I go, I will see an AED—when SCA will no longer take any lives.”

Last updated October 5th, 2022