SCA: It Might Not Be So Sudden As You Think
In the US alone, SCA, or Sudden Cardiac Arrest, is considered to be one of the most popular causes of death. For most part, it does not help that SCA can happen without giving the victim or the people around him any warning sign. Or is that always the case?
While most people confuse Sudden Cardiac Arrest with heart attack, the two are not the same. In a heart attack, the blood vessels leading to the heart become blocked. Since the oxygen-rich blood us unable to reach the heart as well as the other organs, it has to pump harder. If the blood is not able to reach the intended organs in time, tissue necrosis can occur, and death can follow in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, in a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, something causes the heart’s beating pattern to go haywire. This could be blunt force trauma or a congenital heart problem. In either case, the blood flow is disrupted and does not get to the intended organs. Within a matter of seconds, a person suffering from SCA would lose consciousness and would have no pulse. If left unattended, he or she could succumb within a matter of minutes. Institutions like the American Heart Association consider SCA as a deadly condition as it usually attacks without prior warning.
Now, while a heart attack does not lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, a Sudden Cardiac Arrest can be triggered by a heart attack.
Of late, however, a number of studies have shown that, at some point, prior to the onset of SCA, patients tend to experience a number of things. One study has taken into consideration 567 cases of middle-aged men who had experienced cardiac arrests outside hospital premises. In most of the cases, weeks, or even months, before the attack, the patients have already experienced chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, or palpitations, among other symptoms that indicate a heart problem. Unfortunately, because of the lapse between the signs and the actual onset of SCA, few of the victims were able to relate the former to the latter. In the same line, because the sign seems to be an isolated one, victims tend to just shrug it off.
It also does not help that victims who already pose a high risk for heart problems do not immediately seek medical attention when they feel heaviness in the chest area or difficulty in breathing. A lot of time, they just chalk it up to indigestion or to fatigue due to a busy schedule for the day. These small things, unknown to them, are actually already “signals” that the heart is having some problems. According to the Ameircan Heart Association, if a patient already notices these small signs and symptoms, he or she should already undergo a thorough medical exam. This would include checking the patient’s family history, x-rays, and ECG, among other things.
The best way to prepare yourself when it comes to dealing with SCA is to undergo CPR training with such companies as Citywide. Having an AED unit around can also help ensure that you would know what to do during emergency cases.