Healthy Heart

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Key Takeaways

  • Cardiac arrest is an extremely common cause of death.
  • If an individual suffers from cardiac arrest, his or her heart has stopped suddenly.

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the most common causes of death due to cardiac diseases. Sudden cardiac arrest refers to the sudden loss of heart function, resulting in death. It is different from a heart attack in that the latter is caused by a blockage in one of the vessels that supplies the walls of the heart. Sudden cardiac arrest may be one of the causes of a heart attack, and is considered to be a medical emergency, as it leads to death. If treated promptly, death due to this condition can be avoided.

Sudden cardiac arrest may stop the heartbeat, which in turn, may affect the flow of blood to other organs in the body. Breathing and an individual's heart rate reduces and stops suddenly. The person may faint or lose consciousness completely. In most cases, sudden cardiac arrest happens without any warning signs.

The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest is an abnormal electrical heart rhythm. As the electrical impulses from the heart becomes abnormal, pumping and flow of blood to different organs may be affected considerably.

Other conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest include:

  • Coronary artery disease – In this condition, the blood vessels to the heart are clogged due to the deposition of cholesterol, and this may affect the blood flow to the organ. This affects the smooth conduction of electrical impulses in the heart.
  • Cardiomyopathy – The heart walls thicken and enlarge, damaging the tissues of the heart leading to abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Marfan syndrome – This syndrome is an inherited disorder characterized by weakened and stretched heart muscles.
  • Congenital heart diseases – Cardiac problems that are present since birth or those who had a corrective surgery for any of these diseases have a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Primary heart rhythm abnormalities – Conditions with defects in the electrical system of the heart, like Brugada’s syndrome and long QT syndrome, also lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

Other factors that may increase the risk of this condition include:

  • Gender – Males are found to be at an increased risk for getting sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Age – The risk of this disease increases with age, after 45-years-old in men, and after 55-years-old in women.
  • History of cardiac arrest or myocardial infarction
  • Family history of cardiac diseases

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and treatment with automated external defibrillator if given immediately may help to prevent death due to sudden cardiac arrest.

Some of the warning symptoms to look out for include: