Although rare, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of sports related death. Read more below to familiarize yourself to some common terms and our AED program.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, emergency medical services (EMS) treat about 383,000 victims of SCA before they reach the hospital. Less than 12 percent of those victims survive. SCA can happen to anyone at any time. It is important for organizations to implement AED programs so trained individuals are prepared to respond to an SCA emergency. Placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in key locations, and making sure employees are trained to use them, can mean the difference between life and death. Places such as schools are being equipped with AEDs. This webpage provides information on SCA, heart attacks and defibrillation.
Sudden Cardiac Arrestis the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have heart disease. SCA occurs instantly or shortly after symptoms appear. Most SCAs are due to abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. A common arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation, in which the heart’s electrical impulses suddenly become chaotic and ineffective. Blood flow to the brain stops abruptly; the victim then collapses and quickly loses consciousness. Death usually follows unless a normal heart rhythm is restored within minutes.
Heart Attack: The term “heart attack” is often mistakenly used to describe SCA. Although a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest and sudden death, the terms don’t mean the same thing. Heart attacks are caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. Heart attack refers to death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply, not necessarily resulting in the death of the victim. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or pain.
Defibrillation is a process in which an electronic device gives an electrical shock to the heart. Defibrillation stops ventricular fibrillation by using an electrical shock and allows the return of a normal heart rhythm. A victim’s chance of survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent for every minute that passes without defibrillation. In recent years, small portable defibrillators have become available. These devices are called automated external defibrillators, or AEDs. An AED is a device that analyzes a heart rhythm and prompts the user to deliver a shock when necessary. These devices only require the user to turn the AED on and follow the audio instructions when prompted.
Importance of an AED Program The American Heart Association strongly encourages organizations to implement AED programs to increase the chances of survival for people who have heart-related emergencies. With an AED program, a person will be better prepared to save the life of a victim of SCA. The goal of every AED program is to deliver defibrillation to an SCA victim within three to five minutes after collapse.