SCA is to a heart attack like apples are to oranges

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October is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) awareness month and the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) has begun a campaign to educate the public about the difference between a heart attack and SCA and to educate physicians about better informing their patients of these differences.

The tagline for the HRS campaign is: “Think sudden cardiac arrest is a heart attack? That’s like comparing apples to oranges.”

Previous research has shown that many Americans don’t know the difference between SCA and a heart attack, which can lead to people overlooking and missing warning signs that may indicate the risk of SCA.

HRS also wants to educate physicians about the importance of speaking with at-risk patients and their families about SCA and MI and the difference between the two.

Almost two-thirds of SCA deaths occur without any prior indications of heart disease. Some symptoms that may indicate someone is at risk for SCA include:

  • A previous heart attack: individuals who have had a heart attack are at greater risk of SCA—75 percent of people who die of SCA show signs of a previous heart attack;
  • A family history of sudden death, heart failure or massive heart attack;
  • Abnormal heart rate or rhythm of unknown cause;
  • Unusual rapid heart rate that comes and goes, even when the person is at rest;
  • Episodes of fainting of unknown cause; and
  • Low ejection fraction.

A recent survey conducted by the HRS asked people how they would respond if they witnessed an SCA event. Results showed that 42 percent would call 9-1-1 and wait for emergency personnel to respond, 35 percent would administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or chest compressions and only 16 percent of respondents would use an automatic external defibrillator.

Be sure to read the article in this portal about the awards given to various people and programs by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association. Recipients include the New York City Fire Department and the governor of Illinois.

For more information on products associated with external defibrillators, be sure to stop by our HealthCare TechGuide. Company and product listings, whitepapers and upcoming events are just a mouse click away.

Also, you can read about the use of automated CPR devices in the cath lab in the July/August issue of Cardiovascular Business.

Lastly, if you have a comment or report to share about any aspect of sudden cardiac arrest, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Kaiser, Editor

ckaiser@cardiovascularbusiness.com