Most Americans mistakenly believe that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and a heart attack are the same. If more people understood the difference, thousands of lives could be saved each year.
A heart attack is caused by a blockage that disrupts blood flow to the heart muscle, causing a part of the muscle to die. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating. The victim usually remains conscious since the heart continues to beat during a heart attack.
Luckily, Graber was able to call for help. He was rushed to the hospital and received two stents (metal or fabric mesh tubes used to prop open arteries) to restore vital blood flow. The procedure saved Graber’s life, but the heart attack caused damage to his heart muscle and put him at risk for another serious heart condition called sudden cardiac arrest.
Heart attack patients are at increased risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when a sudden electrical malfunction causes the heart to beat so rapidly that it cannot circulate blood, often just quivering with no true beats at all. During sudden cardiac arrest, the heart can no longer supply enough blood to the body to sustain life.
While there are many causes of SCA, including underlying heart rhythm disorders, one of the most common risk factors is a recent heart attack. The dead muscle from a heart attack can disrupt the heart’s natural electrical system and lead to SCA.
If you or a loved one suffers a heart attack, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your risk of sudden cardiac arrest and to learn more about options to provide protection if your risk is high.
Take a look at our CPR Classes today to learn how you can quickly react to help someone suffering a cardiac arrest!