Check back often for interesting articles on sudden cardiac arrest.

7 facts about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)

Superbowl Football Stadium

On Sunday, more than 70,000 fans packed Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas to watch the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. That’s quite a crowd.


But did you know you could fill more than five Allegiant Stadiums with the number of Americans who experience sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) out-of-hospital each year?


It’s true. That’s more than 350,000 Americans, or about 1,000 per day. What’s more, about 60% to 80% will die before reaching the hospital.


While SCA is common – and typically fatal, there’s much need for increased public awareness about the condition.


To get us started, here’s seven things to know about SCA.


1.        SCA occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops beating.

When the heart stops, blood is no longer pumped to the brain and other vital organs. The victim loses consciousness and, if not treated swiftly, will likely die.


2.        SCA is not a heart attack. 
The key difference is SCA is an electrical problem, whereas a heart attack is a plumbing problem. A heart attack occurs when there’s a blockage obstructing blood flow to the heart. It’s possible for the heart to continue beating during a heart attack. Not so with SCA; heart function stops.


3.        SCA often occurs without warning or symptoms. 
In some cases, individuals may experience dizziness, chest pain, heart palpitation, or shortness of breath prior to SCA; however about half of SCA victims do not report experiencing symptoms prior to collapse.


4.        SCA occurs overwhelmingly in the home. 
I fact, it happens in the home setting about 75% of the time.


5.        Several risk factors increase the likelihood of experiencing SCA, including:

§  history of heart disease

§  family history of heart disease or SCA

§  high blood pressure

§  high cholesterol

§  diabetes

§  drug or alcohol abuse

§  smoking

§  obesity

§  inactive lifestyle


6.        SCA impacts men more than women. 
Research suggests SCA occurs about half as often in women. Greater prevalence in males may be partly attributed to biological factors, such as men having higher rates of coronary artery disease. Evidence also suggests women who experience sudden cardiac arrest may have higher survival rates compared to men.

The median age for SCA in the U.S. is between 66 and 68.


7.        SCA appears to impact some racial groups disproportionately  

In fact, research has found that Blacks as a group experience SCA at twice the rate white individuals. So far, there’s no conclusive evidence to explain the disparity, but researchers suggest higher burden of illnesses that increase risk of heart disease, like hypertension and diabetes, could be among the factors.


Need more information? Contact Starting Hearts at @[email protected].