Sudden Cardiac Death happens when the heart unexpectedly stops working. SCD is usually caused by an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). When a person experiences SCD, he or she collapses, is unresponsive to touch or sound and usually stops breathing. SCD victims will die if they don’t receive emergency medical help. An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) must be used to restart the heart.
Each year up to 40,000 cardiac arrests happen in Canada.
Your heart has a natural pacemaker, called the sinus node, which creates electrical impulses that cause your heart to beat. When there is a disorder in this electrical system, an arrhythmia may occurs.
SCD occurs more frequently in people with heart disease, but may occasionally occur in active, healthy people who aren’t aware they have heart disease or other health problems.
SCD is usually caused by arrhythmias, and these arrhythmias may be triggered by other issues, including:
Factors that may increase the risk of SCD include:
If your doctor is concerned about the risk of SCD, the following tests may be ordered:
SCD may be prevented through medication, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or catheter ablation.
It’s important to act quickly when you see a Sudden Cardiac Death happen. The use of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) can make a big difference.
If you see an SCD happen: