With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the United States, it’s no wonder that so many people suffer from sudden cardiac arrest. What is surprising is the fact that so few people actually suspect that it’s about to happen to them, since a new study shows that sudden cardiac arrest may have indicators up to a month before.
The study, led by Dr. Sumeet Chugh, associate director of the Heart Institute and director of the Heart Rhythm Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, focused on a sample of 840 patients.
The patients were of ages between 35 and 65, and they were followed for 10 years, between 2002 and 2012. Nearly three quarters of the participants were male.
Dr. Chugh and his colleagues performed the study because not even 10% of cardiac attack victims survive, and the rest are dead in less than 10 minutes.
The goal was to determine if there was a way to prevent the sudden occurrence of a cardiac arrest, or at least to prevent it.
According to the study, 50% of males and 53% of females involved suffered at least some warnings prior to their sudden cardiac arrest.
The most common warning symptom for men was chest pain, while the most common for women was shortness of breath.
The study also revealed that the symptoms that occurred up to a month before the sudden cardiac arrest reoccurred within 24 hours of their hearts stopping.
Of all the 840 participants, only 19% called 911 after experiencing the symptoms, and they were the most likely to survive.
While one third of the patients who called 911 survived, only 6% of those who didn’t manages to stay alive.
The doctors wanted to stress that not everyone suffering from chest pain or shortness of breath is necessarily going to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, but they advise those at risk, or with known heart conditions to be careful, and in case of feeling any flu-like symptoms, to call 911.
They also wanted to note the difference between a heart attack and a sudden cardiac arrest. A heart attack happens when an arterial blockage cuts off blood flow to the heart, while a sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart’s electrical activity goes AWOL and the heart suddenly stops beating.
Image source: Wikimedia