Sudden Cardiac Death: What You Need to Know

Introduction

Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) is a leading cause of death that can happen without any noticeable warning. It most commonly affects performance athletes, with death occurring within one hour of the onset of symptoms. In this article, we’ll cover the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options available for patients who may be at increased risk for SCD.

What happens during sudden cardiac death?

When someone experiences sudden cardiac death, it means that their heart has suddenly stopped beating. This can happen due to a number of reasons, including a heart attack, electrical problems with the heart, or traumatic injury to the chest.

 

When the heart stops beating, it can no longer pump blood to the brain and other vital organs. This lack of blood flow can cause these organs to quickly shut down. Within minutes, someone who has experienced sudden cardiac death will lose consciousness and will not be able to be revived.

 

Although sudden cardiac death is often associated with heart disease, it can actually happen to anyone at any time. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and to get medical help right away if you or someone you know is experiencing them. 

 

Our doctors at EVA Teleconsult are uniquely suited to diagnose and help manage most health concerns.

doctor checking man for sudden cardiac death

What are the symptoms of sudden cardiac death?

The symptoms of sudden cardiac death can vary depending on the underlying cause. However, there are some common signs and symptoms that may occur just before or during a cardiac event. These can include shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, or irregular heartbeat. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately as they could be indicative of a more serious condition.

Are there warning signs of sudden cardiac death?

Yes, there are warning signs of sudden cardiac death. These include:

 

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Heart palpitations or arrhythmias
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety

How do I protect myself from sudden cardiac death?

SCD is a sudden, unexpected death caused by a change in heart rhythm. It is the most common type of natural death in the United States. Each year, about 325,000 people aged 40 and older die from SCD.

Most SCDs happen when the heart suddenly stops beating (called ventricular fibrillation). This is an abnormal heart rhythm that prevents the heart from pumping blood to the brain and other organs. Ventricular fibrillation can be caused by many things, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, electrolyte imbalances, and genetic conditions.

There are many ways to protect yourself from sudden cardiac death. Some of these include:

  • Wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace that says you have a heart condition.
  • Taking your prescribed medications regularly and as directed.
  • Avoiding illegal or performance-enhancing drugs and excessive alcohol use.
  • Controlling risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking.
  • Having regular checkups with your doctor and getting prompt treatment for any new or worsening symptoms.

What causes sudden cardiac death?

There are many potential causes of sudden cardiac death, including heart attacks, arrhythmias, and electrocution. However, the most common cause of sudden cardiac death include the following.

Ventricular Fibrillation

An uncontrolled heart rhythm that can cause the heart to stop beating. When the heart’s electrical system is functioning normally, the heart beats in a regular rhythm. This electrical system controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is an abnormal heart rhythm in which the ventricles contract chaotically and do not pump blood effectively. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

 

The most common cause of VF is coronary artery disease. When the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle are blocked or narrowed, it can disrupt the normal electrical impulses that travel through the heart. This can lead to an irregular heartbeat and, eventually, VF. Other conditions that can cause or contribute to VF include electrolyte imbalances, certain medications, trauma, and underlying cardiovascular conditions such as cardiomyopathy.

 

When VF occurs, it is imperative to receive medical attention immediately. If VF is not treated within minutes, it can lead to cardiac arrest and death. Treatment for VF typically includes electric shock (defibrillation), which helps to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. In some cases, medications may also be used to treat VF.

 

If you experience any symptoms of VF, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or irregular heartbeat, cease any activity and proceed directly to the nearest emergency room. While VF can be deadly if not treated promptly, many people who receive treatment make a full recovery.

 

 

Myocarditis

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. It can be caused by a viral infection, but can also have other causes, such as autoimmune diseases. Myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac death, although this is rare. Treatment for myocarditis typically includes rest and medications to reduce the inflammation.

Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that occurs in the lungs. This can happen when a clot forms in a vein in another part of the body and then travels to the lungs. Pulmonary embolisms can be life-threatening because they can block blood flow to the lungs and cause problems with breathing. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing up blood. If you think you may have a pulmonary embolism, it’s important to seek medical help right away.

How EVA Teleconsult can help prevent SCD

EVA Teleconsult is ready to help protect patients from many potentially life-altering conditions, including SCD. That’s because, with us, our patients always receive:

  • Same-day and on-time appointments – Our doctors will never make patients wait, because we understand that their time is valuable.
  • Guaranteed 30 minutes of consultation time – We make sure our patients have enough time to ask all their questions so all their concerns are addressed. At the same time, we provide full explanations about their condition so they can make an informed decision about their health.
  • Five-star rated doctors – Our patients are frequently so pleased with the care they receive, they can’t help but provide kind feedback about their physicians.
 
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