Frequently Asked Questions About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

What is sudden or sudden cardiac arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a failure of the heart’s electrical system that causes a sudden and unexpectedly rapid, then erratic heartbeat, until the heart stops completely. Two of the most common ways an episode begins include a fast heartbeat called ventricular tachycardia (VT) and a chaotic rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). When this happens, the heart cannot pump blood efficiently. In this way, blood flow to the brain is compromised and the victim quickly loses consciousness.

During a SCP, CPR alone is not enough to restore heart rhythm. Performing immediate cardiac defibrillation is the only effective way to restore heart rhythm. The survival rate after cardiac arrest decreases by 10 percent for every minute that passes from the patient’s collapse to defibrillation.

Is a PCS the same as a heart attack or stroke?

No. A heart attack happens when a blockage in an artery causes a lack of oxygen delivery to the heart muscle and ends up damaging it. Heart attack victims may experience chest pain and generally remain conscious. Heart attacks are serious and can lead to a PCS. However, a SCP can happen regardless of whether or not there is a heart attack and without warning. PCS can be fatal if it is not treated right away.

What is defibrillation?

Defibrillation is the application of an electrical current to the heart during an episode of cardiac arrhythmia in order to save the life of the patient.lectrical energy passes through the heart from electrodes placed on the chest and helps restore a natural sinus rhythm.

Who is at risk?

People at highest risk are those with a personal or family history of heart problems, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, or stroke. However, PCS is unpredictable and can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere, large or small, smokers or nonsmokers, sick or healthy. An alarming number of young people die each year from PCS; many of them did not know they had heart problems until the arrest occurred. PCS occurs frequently in active, apparently healthy people with no known heart problems or other health problems.

If SCP occurs, can the victim be saved with CPR?

It is a common misconception that CPR alone and a call to emergency services are enough. CPR is a temporary measure that maintains the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. It is not used to return the heart rhythm to normal during ventricular fibrillation. The key to survival is defibrillation, done as soon as possible. Only defibrillation can restore normal heart rhythm.

What does a defibrillator do?

A processor inside the AED analyzes the victim’s heart rhythm via adhesive electrodes that are placed on the patient’s chest and recommends when a shock is necessary. If shock is necessary, an electrical current is applied to the heart through the chest wall via the adhesive electrode pads.

Cardiac defibrillators such as HeartSine PADs are specially designed to not deliver shocks unless necessary to save the life of the victim.

The shock produced by the defibrillator helps restore a normal heart rhythm.

Why do you need a HeartSine automated external defibrillator?

HeartSine devices can be used by anyone, anytime, anywhere to deliver a life-saving electrical shock to a sudden cardiac arrest victim. If CPR alone is used, the chances of surviving a SCP are less than five percent; however, if CPR is combined with immediate use of a cardiac defibrillator, the chances of survival increase to more than 75 percent.