Study Identifies Warning Symptoms for Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Study Identifies Warning Symptoms for Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 28 Dec 2015 - 16:27

heart-attackMore than 50 percent of the people who suffer from SCA (sudden cardiac arrest) are usually ignorant about the warning symptoms that occur a month prior to the fatal cardiac arrest. SCA can result in death within a few minutes.

According to the latest study (published in the Annals of Internal Medicine), timely medical intervention could possibly save their lives, if the symptoms are attended to. This new study conducted by an associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute for the first time shows that many people suffer from warning symptoms up to a month prior to experiencing a cardiac arrest.

Dr Sumeet S. Chugh, medical director of the Heart Rhythm Center in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute said, since less than 7% individuals survive a SCA it is difficult to pin point the symptoms that occur prior to the cardiac arrest. However, the new study, with its novel and unique approach can possibly assess the condition better and help prevention of this fatality. 

The terms 'heart attack' and 'sudden cardiac arrest' are not similar. A heart attack is a sudden severe instance of abnormal heart function and is generally caused due to clogged coronary arteries that bring down the blood flow to the heart muscle. However, SCA occurs due to the defective electrical activity of the heart and patients suffering from SCA may have little or no warning, before their death.

"We already have the implantable defibrillator, a surgically implanted device that is a long-term lifesaver for many patients who suffer sudden cardiac arrest down the road. Now that we realize that sudden death may not be so sudden, there is also potential for new shorter-term approaches by increasing awareness and education of patients and their healthcare providers,” said Chugh.

Study Findings: Chugh and his colleagues for the first time took the initiative to determine some risk factors of SCA and examined data about 840 patients aged between 35-65 years. Researchers questioned first responders and patient’s family members and found:

  • Patients who mostly suffered from chest pain before experiencing cardiac arrest were about 51%
  • Among the group that experienced symptoms, 93% experienced them again within 24 hours before the cardiac arrest. However, only 19% of them who experienced symptoms sought emergency medical services.
  • Patients who sought medical help having experienced symptoms had a survival rate of about 32% and others who did not, had a survival rate of only 6%.

Dr Eduardo Marbán, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute said these new findings give good reason not to snub uncommon sensations, even if it’s unclear.  He advices seeking medical attention as early as possible, rather than dying a sudden death.


Reference: Warning Symptoms Are Associated With Survival From Sudden Cardiac Arrest.Annals of Internal Medicine, December 2015; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Medical first: Discovery of warning symptoms for usually fatal heart rhythm malfunction: More than half of those who have a sudden cardiac arrest ignore key symptoms even though medical intervention could save lives."



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