Sudden Cardiac Arrest: It's Not a Heart Attack

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The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation recently collaborated with Mediaplanet on an article that contrasts sudden cardiac arrest with heart attacks, which appears in “Cardiovascular Health,” a supplement that was distributed within USA Today and will be distributed at the American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session and Expo April 2-4 in Chicago. The digital version is available here.

Andy Graber

The article features the story of Andy Graber, who is fortunate to have experienced and survived both a heart attack and a sudden cardiac arrest.

I think about all of the things I like to do in my life, and I almost lost all of it. My doctors saved my life.

Many people think sudden cardiac arrest and heart attacks are the same thing. They’re not. The confusion plays out in the mass media, popular TV and films every day. If more people understood the difference, thousands of lives could be saved each year.

An article by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation in "Cardiovascular Health" contrasts sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) with a heart attack, describes how they can sometimes be related, and describes the critical steps for both prevention and treatment. To help illustrate the difference, the Foundation featured the story of Andy Graber, who survived both conditions.

So what is the difference? A heart attack is a blood flow problem, caused by a blockage. The victim is usually awake, and while symptoms can vary (particularly among men and women), it is often associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea or sweating.

Sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical problem, caused by a disruption in the heart’s electrical system. The victim quickly loses consciousness with little or no warning signs, has no pulse and ceases to breathe normally.

Both are very serious, but in the case of SCA, treatment in the form of CPR and a defibrillator must start immediately, as the chances of survival decrease by 10 percent with each minute that passes.

While there are many causes of SCA, including underlying (and often undetected) heart rhythm disorders, one of the most common risk factors is a recent heart attack. The dead muscle from a heart attack can make the heart electrically unstable, putting patients at greater risk for SCA.

With more than 1.5 million Americans suffering heart attacks each year, that’s a lot of people who may not realize they’re at increased risk for SCA.

Andy Graber experienced both a heart attack and SCA. He was fortunate that his doctor prescribed a LifeVest wearable defibrillator after his heart attack, and that device helped save his life. To read Andy's story, click here.

About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and saving lives. Programs include educational campaigns for secondary schools and colleges and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network, an online community that provides peer support and opportunities for survivors and family members to participate in awareness, advocacy, and research initiatives.

About Mediaplanet
Mediaplanet is the leading independent publisher of content-marketing campaigns covering a variety of topics and industries. We turn consumer interest into action by providing readers with motivational editorial, pairing it with relevant advertisers and distributing it within top newspapers and online platforms around the world.

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Carissa Caramanis O'Brien
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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
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