A cardiac arrest or when it happens unexpectedly, a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is one of the UK biggest killers with a extremely low survival rate – on average just 8.6%. This is in contrast to the condition it is often confused with – myocardial infarction, more commonly known as a heart attack, which has a survival rate up to 80%. This is a “plumbing” issue where the blood supply is blocked or restricted to the heart, but importantly the heart is still pumping and the patient still conscious and alive. This is in contrast to a sudden cardiac arrest which is an “electrical” issue which stops the heart from pumping resulting in the person collapsing unconscious and being essentially “dead” – if no immediate action is taken to rectify the situation they will sadly stay that way. More information on the difference can be found here.
A major heart attack can lead to a sudden cardiac arrest and is a significant cause of them, but they have a multitude of other known causes and also unknown causes.
They can occur at any time, any where and to any one – age or fitness is no indicator. Indeed the Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK peer support group has many people who thought they were fit and healthy prior to their event and it is estimated that 12-15 young people die each week of an SCA.
When a person has Sudden Cardiac Arrest, unless they get immediate attention they are often without oxygen for some time and this can often lead to serious repercussions including brain injury.
If you would like to know more about life after a cardiac arrest you might be interested in reading more at www.suddencardiacarrestuk.org/blog/