If you are like most people today, you don't suspect you will ever die suddenly without warning, especially at a young age. However, you do need to be aware of sudden cardiac arrest, which can strike men and women of all ages. Unlike traditional cardiac arrest, which is typically caused by a blocked artery in the heart and usually strikes people who have already been diagnosed with heart disease or at least one of the contributing factors, such as high blood pressure, sudden cardiac arrest can occur in people who seem perfectly healthy. However, you can prevent sudden cardiac death in your family by learning about the early warning signs and knowing what to do if someone in your family experiences it. 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Early Warning Signs

If someone in your family died from sudden cardiac death, then the most important thing for your family to do is undergo genetic testing to determine if anyone has the gene that led to the death of the family member. If the gene is unknown, then an ECG can detect the heart problem that leads to the heart failing suddenly without warning.

Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by an abnormality in a heart's electrical system, yet many people experience no symptoms before their heart suddenly experiences a sudden electrical problem called a ventricular fibrillation. However, some people do experience symptoms early on in their lives or even directly before the sudden cardiac arrest that, while troublesome, often get "brushed off" due to no one suspecting them to be signs of heart problems. 

Early warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest include: 

  1. Fainting spells. After a 22-year old woman died of sudden cardiac arrest, the family reported that she had fainted 3-4 times in her life. Other studies have shown that many other people who died of sudden cardiac death had fainted in their lives. 
  2. Dizziness. This can signal many health problems, so like fainting spells, always report dizziness spells to your family doctor. 
  3. Chest pain. This typically occurs within four weeks of the sudden cardiac death. 

There may be other warning signs that have not yet been discovered by researchers, so always report any unusual symptoms to your family doctor and, if you have a family history of sudden cardiac death, make sure they are aware of it. 

How You Can Help Someone Experiencing Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Only just over 9 percent of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting survive. This makes early detection and treatment of heart electrical abnormalities the most important aspect of preventing sudden cardiac death. 

However, if someone in your family experiences cardiac arrest, it is important to call 911 begin CPR on them immediately. As soon as an AED is available, it should be used to "shock" the person experiencing cardiac arrest. If no AED is available, then continue CPR until a paramedic who is equipped with one arrives. 

Sudden cardiac arrest is the most common cause of natural death, yet few people realize that it can occur in people of all ages. Know the early warning signs and, if you have a family history of sudden cardiac death, report it to your family doctor along with any symptoms you experience immediately. An ECG can then be ordered to detect heart electrical disturbances, and your doctor can then help you prevent sudden cardiac arrest. For more information or assistance, contact establishments like Hampstead Medical Center PC.