Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a medical condition in which a malfunction in the heart's electrical system, caused by a congenital or genetic defect in the heart's structure, causes blood to stop flowing to the brain and other vital organs. SCA is different from a heart attack, which is caused by a blockage that stops the flow of blood to the heart.
As the leading cause of death in the U.S., there are more than 300,000 cardiac arrests outside hospitals each year, with nine out of 10 resulting in death. Thousands of sudden cardiac arrests occur among youth, as it is the #2 cause of death under 25 and the #1 killer of student athletes during exercise. SCA is more likely to occur during exercise or physical activity, so student-athletes are at greater risk. It is vital to take action if you witness a victim showing symptoms.
Symptoms of SCA include:
- Fainting or seizure, especially during or right after exercise
- Fainting repeatedly or with excitement or startle
- Excessive shortness of breath during exercise
- Racing or fluttering heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- Repeated dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest pain or discomfort with exercise
- Excessive, unexpected fatigue during or after exercise
Should you recognize early SCA, confirm unresponsiveness. Call 9-1-1 and follow emergency dispatcher's instructions. Call any on-site Emergency Responders.
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