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The information contained on this website is presented for the purpose of educating people about fatal sudden cardiac arrest. Nothing contained on this website should be construed nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart fibrillates - a chaotic, abnormal electrical activity of the heart -- which causes the heart to quiver in an uncontrollable fashion. The person loses consciousness very quickly and unless the condition is reversed, death follows in a matter of minutes. Heart attack, on the other hand, occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle itself is severely reduced or stopped because of an obstruction in an artery. A heart attack can trigger sudden cardiac arrest, but they are not the same thing.

What are the most common defects that can cause sudden cardiac arrest in young people?

Electrical Causes:


Brugada Syndrome – an arrhythmia that causes the bottom chambers of the heart (the ventricles) to beat so fast that they can prevent blood from circulating efficiently in the body. When this occurs it is called ventricular fibrillation.


Catecholamineric Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT) – is a disorder triggered by exercise or stress in which the heart’s pumping chambers go into uncontrolled rhythms that do not pump blood effectively.


Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) – is an often unrecognized congenital condition that predisposes the child to an abnormality in the heart's electrical system, which can lead to death. It is a disorder of the heart’s conduction system that affects the recharging of the heart after each heartbeat.


Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW) – is an abnormality of the heart’s electrical system. In patients with WPW, there is an extra electrical pathway between the upper chambers and the lower chambers. This condition can create a “short circuit” in the electrical system and lead abnormally fast heart rates (tachycardias).


Structural Causes:


Arrythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD) – is a form of cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle of the right ventricle is replaced by fatty tissue. As a result, the heart’s ability to pump blood is weakened.


Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) – this is the most common form of the disease and occurs when heart muscle tissue is enlarged and stretched, making it difficult for the heart to function.


Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) – this is the second most common type of cardiomyopathy and result in excessive thickening of the heart walls. Blood flow is restricted as the heart chambers become smaller and stiffer. Most often, it is inherited but sometimes the cause is not clear.


Kawasaki Disease – is characterized by inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body, especially the coronary arteries of the heart.


Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) – is a disorder that affects one of the heart’s valve—the mitral valve. It occurs when the valve doesn’t close properly allowing backward leaking of blood in your heart. This may cause some people to get an infection that allocates in the valve when they have dental work or surgery.


Myocarditis – is an inflammation of the muscular wall of the heart that causes the pumping action of the heart to weaken and enough oxygen-rich blood is not supplied to the body. It may be caused by viral, bacterial or fungal infection.


Restrictive Cardiomyopathy (RCM) – this is a condition where the rhythm and pumping action may be healthy, but the stiff walls of heart chambers keeps them from filling normally. Blood flow is reduced and blood that would normally enter the heart is backed up in the circulatory system.


Other Causes:


Commotio Cordis - is an electrical disturbance cases by a blow to the chest. It occurs most often in baseball, but has been reported in other sports and situations in which there is a blow to the chest. 

What are the signs or symptoms to look for?


Although most symptoms are not recognized until it's too late, call 911 immediately if your child show any signs of shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting (syncope), heart palpitations, rapid heart beat, and unusual chest pain or discomfort.
What is an Automated External Defibrillator?

An automated external defibrillator or AED is a device that automatically analyzes heart rhythms and advises the operator to deliver a shock if the heart is in a fatal heart rhythm. AEDs are safe and will not shock anyone who is not in a fatal heart rhythm. Non-medical personnel can use AEDs safely and effectively with minimal training.
How does an AED work?
A computer inside the defibrillator analyzes the victim's heart rhythm. The device decides whether a shock is needed. Some devices shock the victim automatically if a shock is needed. Other devices require that the operator press a button to deliver the shock. The shock is delivered through pads stuck to the victim's bare chest. The shock stuns the heart, stopping abnormal heart activity, and allowing a normal heart rhythm to resume.
Do I need a prescription to acquire an AED?

A prescription from a physician is required for purchasing most AED models. However, at least one model has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use without a prescription and is available over the counter.

Does TQSF endorse any particular AED device?

The TQSF does not endorse any particular AED device. However, the FDA has approved the Philips HeartStart Home OTC Defibrillator - K040904 for home use.

What can I do as a parent to keep my child safe?

As a parent you should be aware of any signs or symptoms, have an understanding of your family's health history and make sure your child has a routine cardiac screening. Do not permit your child to play any sport until after they have been medically-cleared.

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