Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) has been called a healthcare crisis by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) happened in 2016, with only 12 percent of people surviving to hospital discharge.
Sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack (myocardial infarction). SCA is a “sudden and pulseless condition attributed to cessation of cardiac mechanical activity,” and it’s usually caused by ventricular fibrillation. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is reduced or blocked, killing or damaging heart tissue.
Someone undergoing SCA will collapse and fall unconscious very quickly, and their best chance at surviving is the immediate intervention by a bystander and the use of a defibrillator. This is why CPR and AED classes are so vital.
The AHA has identified 10 measures to prevent death from SCA:
1. Smoking cessation intervention
2. Screening for a family history of SCA
3. Screening for asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction among individuals with family history of cardiomyopathy and SCA
4. CPR and AED education for family members
5. Use of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)
6. Use of guideline-directed medical therapy for patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction
7. Use of guideline-directed medical therapy for patients with heart attack and reduced ejection fraction
8. Documenting the absence of reversible causes before placing an ICD
9. Counseling eligible patients about an ICD
10. Counseling first-degree relatives of survivors of sudden cardiac arrest
Additionally, the AHA advises cardiac rehab for patients healthy enough after a cardiac event. Cardiac rehab consists of exercise counseling and training, education for health living, and counseling to reduce stress. For more information, visit this page at the AHA site.
Pocket Nurse offers CPR trainers and defibrillators for all skill levels.