Sudden Cardiac Arrest – Know the Risks
Recent studies have shed light on many risk factors related to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA); often a quick and silent killer.
Up to ninety percent of those who die from SCA have evidence of plaque (fat and cholesterol) in two or more major arteries. Plaque buildup leads to one common underlying cause: coronary artery disease.
The Mayo Clinic (a medical research group) reports that because the link between coronary artery disease and SCA is so strong, the same factors that put you at risk of coronary artery disease also may put you at risk of SCA.
• Family history of coronary artery disease
• High blood cholesterol
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Alcohol (more than one to two drinks per day)
• Age (after 45 for men and 55 for women)
• Being male (2-3 times the risk)
The American Heart Association reports that SCA can be caused by almost any known heart condition, they list the following specific factors that further increase the odds:
Scarring or enlargement of the heart from a previous heart attack or other causes can make someone more prone to developing life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.
Cardiomyopathy is a deterioration of the heart muscle; typically a root cause of SCA in athletes.
Heart medications, under certain conditions, can set the stage for arrhythmias that cause SCA. Antiarrhythmic drugs sometimes can produce lethal ventricular arrhythmias, even at normal doses.
Electrical abnormalities, such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (a condition with an extra electrical pathway in the heart) and long QT syndrome (a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity) may cause SCA in children and young people.
Blood vessel abnormalities, particularly in the coronary arteries and aorta, may be present in young SCD victims. Adrenaline released during intense physical or athletic activity often acts as a trigger for SCA when these abnormalities are present.
Recreational drug use, even in people without organic heart disease, is a cause of SCA.
There are numerous risk factors related to SCA, but there are also ways to reduce the risk. Next week we will highlight some SCA prevention methods that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Don’t forget to check back!