Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Clinical Expertise to Treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest at Lutheran Heart Center

With a long history of excellence in northern Indiana for comprehensive cardiovascular care, expert cardiovascular specialists at Lutheran Heart Center are able to address routine and complex heart and vascular conditions, including sudden cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a heart rhythm disorder, or electrical problem, that causes the heart to stop beating. SCA affects approximately 350,000 people each year and is the leading cause of death in the United States. It is different than a heart attack, which occurs when blockage of one or more arteries reduces or cuts off blood flow to the heart.

Know Your Numbers and Reduce Your Risk

One of the best indicators of SCA risk is ejection fraction. EF is a measurement indicating the percentage of blood being pumped from the heart each time it contracts. There are several ways to measure EF, including:

Lutheran Heart Center
  • Computerized tomography (CT)
  • Coronary catheterizations
  • Echocardiograms
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Nuclear medicine scans

A normal EF is 55 to 70 percent. A lower EF may require medication management by a physician or evaluation by a heart rhythm specialist to determine if an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) is needed.

SCA Risk Factors

There are a variety of factors that may contribute to a sudden cardiac arrest, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Personal and family history of heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Use of illegal drugs

Age and gender also play a role. The risk of SCA increases for men after age 45 and for women after age 55. Men are three times more likely to experience SCA than women.

A number of tests can help determine risk of SCA. These include blood tests, chest X-rays, electrocardiograms (EKGs), electrophysiological testing and heart catheterizations.

Help control the risk factors associated with SCA. Follow a heart-healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and know your EF. Talk to your doctor to determine what steps are right for you.