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What Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is NOT the same as a heart attack. Although the media and members of the public often use these terms interchangeably they are far from the same medical condition.

Heart attacks occur when there is a blockage of vessels in the heart limiting blood flow. Often the blockage is from a buildup of plaque that ruptures and in turn inhibits a portion of the heart from getting its vital supply of blood. This can lead to death if the blood supply is cut off for too long because the hearts muscle cells don’t receive the necessary oxygen.

Cardiac arrest is caused by ventricular fibrillation, which is caused by a lack of synchronicity of the heart’s chambers resulting in a sudden stoppage of blood flow and loss of consciousness. Cardiac arrest may occur as a result of a heart attack or coronary heart disease, but it can also be induced by arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), electrocution, drowning, choking, or trauma.

This means that anyone of any age can suffer sudden cardiac arrest and need an AED.

Even small children can fall victim. An AED can safely be used on a child under 8 years of age or under 55 lbs if the device is connected to special pediatric pads.

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