Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) means the stopping of the heart – “cardiac arrest” – within a maximum of one hour from the onset of the first symptoms, or occurring in patients found dead within 24 hours of being diagnosed asymptomatic, where death is presumably due to cardiac arrhythmia or haemodynamic catastrophe. SCD can also occur without any previous symptoms. In the past, the term “sudden cardiac death” very often meant DEATH, without any possibility of prevention or treatment. Thanks to the development of modern cardiology, this is NOT the case anymore!
Sudden cardiac arrest may – but may not – lead to Sudden Cardiac Death. We can now both assess the risk and diagnose the diseases that predispose a person to sudden cardiac arrest and SCD. Thanks to this, we sometimes have the opportunity to prevent and anticipate the risk of Sudden Cardiac Death.
We are also able to effectively treat SCD – thanks to rapid resuscitation – restoring the heart rhythm and saving lives.
In addition, people who have already been rescued once and survived a sudden cardiac arrest can be very effectively protected against another event. Thus, prevention and treatment of Sudden Cardiac Death is possible, and death may be avoided.
Is there a difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest?
A heart attack and a cardiac arrest are two different conditions that may be linked.
A heart attack occurs when the delivery of blood to the heart muscle stops. It is often caused by a clot in a coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart muscle. This condition is called acute coronary syndrome or myocardial infarction. The heart continues to pump blood during a heart attack. The person generally is having chest pain (there may be atypical symptoms) but is usually conscious and breathing.
A heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest, as the person is at a higher risk of having dangerous arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation.