Category Archives: Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness

What Causes Sudden Death in Young People?

These 4 Heart Problems Are Often Blamed for Sudden Death in Young People

Although thankfully very rare, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) claims the lives of an estimated 6,000-8,000 individuals under the age of 35 each year (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation).  While a vast majority of the more than 356,000 cardiac arrests that are recorded each year occur in adults over the age of 35 who suffer from coronary artery disease, these numbers are still something to be concerned about. The Mayo Clinic estimates that perhaps 1 in every 50,000 SCA deaths a year occurs in young athletes.

While it’s uncommon, and millions of elementary, high school, and collegiate athletes compete each year without incident, SCA can happen at any time and to anyone. If you think that you or your child might be at risk of sudden death, be sure to talk to your doctor about precautions you can take.

What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young People?

Causes of SCA in children and young adults vary; however, most often death is a result of genetic heart abnormalities, structural abnormalities, or commotio cordis.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Typically an inherited condition, HCM causes the heart muscle cells to enlarge and which then causes the walls of the ventricle (usually the left ventricle) to thicken. This may block the blood flow out of the ventricle — if this occurs, it’s called obstructive HCM.

Non-obstructive HCM, according to the American Heart Association, “can affect the heart’s mitral valve, causing blood to leak backward through the valve. Sometimes, the thickened heart muscle doesn’t block blood flow out of the left ventricle. This is referred to as non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The entire ventricle may thicken, or the thickening may happen only at the bottom of the heart. The right ventricle also may be affected.”

HCM is very common and affects men and women equally. Often, people who have HCM experience no warning signs or symptoms. Others may experience shortness of breath ordisruptions to the heart’s electrical system which can lead to fast or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and may result in SCA. Although usually not fatal, HCM it often goes undetected and is the most common cause of heart-related sudden death in people under 30.

Congenital Coronary Artery Abnormalities

Occasionally people are born with unusual or abnormal heart arteries. If this occurs, arteries may become compressed during exercise and not provide adequate blood flow to the heart.

Long QT Syndrome

Long QT syndrome, caused by abnormalities of proteins in the heart, is also an inherited heart rhythm disorder that may lead to fainting and can cause life-threatening arrhythmias. People with long QT syndrome are at an increased risk for suffering from cardiac arrest. Nearly half of the individuals with long QT never exhibit a symptom of the abnormality. Although there is no cure, medication may help (SADS Foundation).

Commotio Cordis

We discussed commotio cordis at length in March, but in a nutshell, this rare cause of sudden cardiac death can occur in anyone. Because it occurs as the result of a blunt blow to the chest, which can cause ventricular fibrillation, athletes are especially susceptible. The average age of athletes who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest is just 17 and more than two-thirds of young athletes who die suddenly are basketball and football players. Baseball, softball, hockey, and lacrosse players, however, are also especially susceptible to commotio cordis.

What are the Warning Signs of Heart Problems in Young People?

Unfortunately, sudden cardiac death often occurs with no warning or indication. However, if you or your child experience dizziness or unexplained fainting during physical activity, it could be an indication that the heart isn’t working properly.  Likewise, if you or your child experience shortness of breath or chest pain, speak to your doctor immediately!

Finally, if there’s a family history of sudden cardiac death or unexplained deaths before the age of 50, you may want to discuss cardiac screening options with your physician.

Cardio Partners offers CPR, first aid, and AED training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to equip your facilities with an AED, call our team at 866-349-4362, visit aed.com or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com. We’d love to hear from you!

6 Shocking Statistics About Sudden Cardiac Arrest and AEDs

SCA and AEDs By the Numbers (And What We Can Do About It)

To kick off the National Sudden Cardiac Awareness month and to usher in October, we’re sharing a few spook-worthy statistics about SCA.

Shocking Stat #1: Each year, more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) occur in the United States.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

Taken a step further, about 90% of the people who experience an OHCA will die. While these numbers are nothing short of staggering, The American Heart Association also notes that “CPR, especially if administered immediately after cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.”

What is CPR and how does it work? Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an easy-to-learn lifesaving procedure undertaken by first responders or bystanders in an effort to maintain the flow of oxygen to and from the brain and other vital organs. Often, artificial respiration (mouth-to-mouth or bag-valve mask ventilation) accompany manual chest compressions; however, compression-only CPR is an increasingly accepted method as well.

Let’s make a dent in the statistics! Cardio Partners offers nationwide CPR training; contact us to learn more.

Shocking Stat #2: Among middle-aged adults treated for SCA, 50% had no symptoms before the onset of arrest.

Much like SCA survivor Rob Seymour (who we profiled back in March), 50% of people who experience cardiac arrest demonstrate no warning signs.

However, when we flip that stat on its head, a whopping 50% of the people who experience SCA do exhibit warning signs in the hours, days, and weeks prior to the event, and only 19% of the symptomatic patients called emergency medical services to report their symptoms (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

Be heart-aware and be on the lookout for symptoms such as:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest.
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain.
  • Discomfort or pain in the arm or shoulder.
  • Shortness of breath.

Want to dig a little deeper? Read our post, “What’s the Difference Between a Heart Attack and Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Shocking Stat #3: 475,000 Americans die from a cardiac arrest every year and 17.5 million people across the globe die from cardiovascular disease each year.

These figures, courtesy of the American Heart Association and the World Heart Federation, demonstrate just how important it is to take care of your heart! Put yet another way, in the United States, SCA claims more lives than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, influenza, pneumonia, auto accidents, HIV, firearms, and house fires combined.

Just last week, in celebration of World Heart Day, we shared a few of our favorite heart-healthy tips!

Shocking Stat #4: 10,000 SCAs occur in the workplace each year.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration strongly encourages the placement of AEDs in the workplace, yet no federal regulations exist.

Take a look at this example, cited on OSHA’s website: “While standing on a fire escape during a building renovation, a 30-year-old construction worker was holding a metal pipe with both hands. The pipe contacted a high voltage line, and the worker instantly collapsed. About 4 minutes later, a rescue squad arrived and began CPR. Within six minutes the squad had defibrillated the worker. His heartbeat returned to normal and he was transported to a hospital. The worker regained consciousness and was discharged from the hospital within two weeks.”

What can you do to improve SCA survival rates among your employees? Implement an AED program in your workplace today! Affordable, recertified AEDs start at just $550 and implementing an emergency response plan is priceless. Ready to take the plunge? We’ll help you figure out which AED is right for you.

Shocking Stat #5: 68.5% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home.

It should go without saying, but we’re going to go ahead and say it: saving a life is, without a doubt, the best reason for learning CPR. Because four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home, performing CPR promptly and investing in an AED for your home may save the life of someone you love.

And, in case you’re curious, 21% OHCAs occurred in public settings and 10.5% occurred in nursing homes.

Shocking Stat #6: 45% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survive when bystander CPR is administered.

See, it’s not all bad news! Not only that, but the American Heart Association recently published an article revealing that more people are stepping up to offer CPR when someone’s heart stops.

However, despite that fact that first responders are “intervening at higher levels,” survival rates remain higher for men than for women.

One of the researchers associated with the study, Dr. Carolina Malta Hansen, a researcher at Duke Clinical Research Institute, said that a number of factors might have contributed to the outcomes. “Compared to male victims of cardiac arrests, women are more likely to have cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle, and non-shockable rhythms that can’t be treated with defibrillation. Women who suffer cardiac arrests also tend to be older than men and live at home alone, with less chance of CPR being performed.”

In the article, Hansen goes on to note that there’s a great need to strengthen all the links in the chain of survival and that “the most important thing for the general public to know is that bystander intervention is paramount. You shouldn’t be afraid of doing something wrong, because anything is better than nothing: Stepping in and starting CPR and applying an AED before EMS arrives is the foundation for survival.”

For more information about purchasing a new or recertified AED for your home or workplace, or to schedule AED training or maintenance, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.