What is cardiac sudden cardiac death?
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the unexpected natural death from a cardiac cause within 1 hour of onset of symptoms, in a person without a previous condition that would appear fatal.
Sudden cardiac death is a sudden, unexpected natural death from a cardiac cause within 1 hour of onset of symptoms, in a person without a previous condition that would appear fatal. It occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions, causing an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). The heart may beat too fast (ventricular tachycardia) or quiver (ventricular fibrillation), preventing it from pumping blood effectively to the rest of the body.
SCD is different from a heart attack, although a heart attack can increase the risk of SCD. A heart attack is usually caused by a blockage in one or more coronary arteries, resulting in damage to part of the heart muscle. SCD, on the other hand, often occurs without warning and can happen in people with or without known heart disease.
Common causes of SCD include:
Coronary artery disease: Blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle can lead to a heart attack and, in some cases, SCD.
Cardiomyopathy: Conditions that affect the heart muscle, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or dilated cardiomyopathy, can increase the risk of SCD.
Arrhythmias: Abnormal heart rhythms, particularly ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, can lead to SCD.
Structural heart abnormalities: Certain structural problems with the heart, such as congenital heart defects or heart valve disorders, can contribute to SCD.
Drug-related causes: Some medications can increase the risk of arrhythmias and SCD.
While SCD can happen suddenly and without warning, there are often underlying risk factors that may contribute to its occurrence.
These risk factors include a history of heart disease, family history of SCD, age, gender, and certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity.
Prompt administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) can improve the chances of survival in cases of SCD.
However, seeking medical attention and addressing underlying heart conditions are crucial for preventing SCD in the first place.
Regular medical check-ups, a healthy lifestyle, and managing risk factors are important steps in reducing the risk of sudden cardiac death.