The Nuances of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

SCA or “sudden cardiac arrest” is a major medical concern that affects about 356,000 people every year. It’s an urgent situation that without immediate treatment, can lead to fatal outcomes. SCA happens when the heart’s electrical system fails, which triggers a dangerously fast heartbeat. This rapid heartbeat causes the heart to quiver or shake instead of pumping blood to the body and brain. If someone experiences SCA, he or she will suddenly pass out and lose consciousness.

Unfortunately, SCA is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Death from SCA is known as sudden cardiac death, or SCD. If a person experiences certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms, defibrillation, or an electric shock to the heart, is the most effective treatment. Defibrillation can restore normal heart rhythm.

SCA is commonly confused with a heart attack, but they are not the same. A heart attack, in short, entails the obstruction of blood flow that is trying to access a section of the heart. When a person experiences a heart attack, they typically have warning signs or symptoms, like severe chest pain. Unlike SCA, defibrillation is not an effective treatment for a heart attack. Another key difference is that there are often no warning signs or symptoms of SCA. A victim will suddenly pass out.

There are certain heart patients, however, who are known to be at risk for SCA, and for these individuals, there are treatment options to provide protection. You may be a higher risk if you have or experience one of the following: a low ejection fraction (EF) or weak heart muscle, prior heart attack, heart failure, family history of SCD, or viral infection in the heart. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and high cholesterol.

For certain heart patients who are at risk of SCA, a physician may prescribe the ZOLL LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD). ZOLL LifeVest can be prescribed to a range of heart patients, including those who have a reduced heart function following a heart attack, or a new diagnosis of heart failure or cardiomyopathy.

ZOLL LifeVest is a wearable defibrillator. Unlike other defibrillators, LifeVest is designed to be worn directly against the skin 24/7. It should only be removed for a short shower or bath. Additionally, LifeVest does not require the assistance of another person or emergency personnel for it to work. It can protect patients even when they are alone. The LifeVest WCD allows patients to return to most normal daily activities with the peace of mind that they have protection from sudden cardiac death.

LifeVest is designed to detect certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms and automatically deliver a treatment shock to restore the patient’s normal rhythm. The entire event, from detecting a life-threatening rapid heartbeat to automatically delivering a shock, usually takes less than a minute.

Bradley P. Bolden

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