Posted by: wockhardthospitals | February 8, 2010

Sudden Cardiac Arrest : who is at risk, causes, symptoms & prevention.

Sudden Cardiac Deaths account for more than 40-45 % of cardiovascular deaths in India

  • Sudden cardiac arrests are not random as commonly perceived, say experts at Fortis Hospitals (formerly Wockhardt Hospitals)
  • 75% of the people who die of SCA show signs of a coronary artery disease
  • Timely treatment helps bring back patient to their normal functioning of life

What is it?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a situation in which the heart beat stops abruptly and without any warning signs, which, results in no blood being pumped into the rest of the body leaving the patient in a fatal condition. It is responsible for more than half of all heart deaths in our country. Sudden Cardiac death occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops pumping.

The heart has a built-in electrical system. In a healthy heart, a “pace-maker” triggers the heartbeat, and then electrical impulses run along pathways in the heart, causing it to contract in a regular, rhythmic way. When the heart contracts, blood is pumped, but in ventricular fibrillation the electrical signals that control the pumping of the heart suddenly become rapid and chaotic. As a result, the lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles, begins to quiver (fibrillate) instead of contract, and they can no longer pump blood from the heart to the rest of the body. If blood cannot flow to the brain, it becomes starved of oxygen, and the person loses consciousness in seconds. Unless an emergency shock is delivered to the heart to restore its regular rhythm, using a machine called a defibrillator, death can occur within minutes. It’s estimated that more than 70% of ventricular fibrillation victims die before reaching the hospital.

In India the annual incidence of Sudden Cardiac death accounts for 0.55 per 1000 population. Data also reveals that 80% of Sudden Cardiac Arrest victim has coronary artery disease. Sudden Cardiac Arrest is often wrongly equated with a heart attack. In fact what kills most suddenly is not artery block (which destroys the heart muscle but is not as immediately fatal), it is the ventricular fibrillation or arrhythmia which is the most common and instant killer. The survival rate of a sudden cardiac arrest is almost less than 1%. Sudden Cardiac Deaths constitute 40 -45 % of cardiovascular deaths and out of this almost 80% are due to heart rhythm disturbances or arrhythmia. “Electrophysiology a growing sub specialty of cardiology has lot of scope in saving lives in India as it  deals with Heart Rhythm disorders said “Dr Paul S Thoppil, Consultant Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist, Fortis Hospitals Bangalore.

Who Is At Risk?

It is believed that SCD often occurs in active, outwardly healthy people with no known heart disease or other health problems. But the truth is that sudden cardiac death is not a random event. Most victims do have heart diseases or other health problems, although they may not know it.
There are numerous contributors to cardiac arrest, but two of the most important ones are:
A previous heart attack: 75% of the people who die of SCD show signs of a previous heart attack.
Coronary artery disease: 80% of SCD’s victims have signs of coronary artery disease. This is a condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the heart are narrowed or blocked.

There are also a number of symptoms and signs that may indicate that a person is at increased risk for SCD. These include:

· An abnormal heart rate or rhythm (arrhythmia) of unknown cause
· An unusually rapid heart rate (tachycardia) that comes and goes, even when the person is at rest
· Episodes of fainting (called syncope) of unknown cause
· A low ejection fraction (EF): The ejection fraction is a measurement of how much blood is pumped by the ventricles with each heart beat.

A healthy heart pumps 55% or more of its blood with each beat. People at highest risk for SCD have ejection fractions of less than 40%, combined with ventricular tachycardia, an abnormally fast heart rate in the lower chambers of the heart.


There are a number of things people can do to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of sudden cardiac death. To begin with, living a “heart healthy” life can help reduce the chances of dying of cardiac arrest or other heart conditions. This includes exercising regularly, eating healthful foods, maintaining a reasonable weight and avoiding smoking. Treating and monitoring diseases and conditions that can contribute to heart problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, is also important.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: