October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, nearly 1,000 people a day experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in the United States alone, and up to 90% of these cases result in fatality.

From children to athletes to the elderly, SCA can present itself in people of any age, and from any walk of life.

While a myocardial infarction ("heart attack") is generally the result of a reduced blood supply due to blockages within the veins and arteries, SCA happens when the heart ceases beating as result of the heart’s "electrical" controls not functioning properly.

The leading cause of SCA is coronary artery disease, which is responsible for roughly 80% of all sudden cardiac arrests. However, SCA can manifest a result of other factors, including congenital disorders or anomalies, drug overdose, or situations in which a person may experience an acute jolt of electricity through their system (electrocution).

Preventing Sudden Cardiac Arrest

There are various warning signs to be heeded in the prevention of SCA. Regardless of your age or general condition of health, should you experience any of the below listed symptoms or events, seek immediate medical attention for a diagnosis:

  • Discomfort or pain in the chest, or seizures during or directly following periods of heavy activity or exercise
  • Unexplained fainting 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Unusual or excessive shortness of breath and fatigue following exercise or heavy activity. 

Because Coronary artery disease (CAD) is by far the most prevalent cause of SCA, it is important to know the risk factors for CAD and make attempts to reduce your personal risk factors to allow for a healthier, longer life.

Risk factors contributing to the development of CAD include:

  • Becoming accustomed to a mostly sedentary lifestyle with limited physical activity
  • Unhealthy eating and being overweight or obese
  • Using tobacco products
  • A genetic predisposition (family history) of heart disease 

Eating healthy, staying active, and eliminating the use of tobacco products are all actions which can be taken to improve overall heart health and reduce the risk of SCA.

Learning CPR and how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can be helpful in saving lives where SCA may present itself. 

Science Care Donors Improve Heart Health

Through the selfless gift of donation, members of the Science Care Community are constantly aiding in the production of new means to improve patient health, longevity, and quality of life.

Specific to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, Science Care donors making a difference by providing opportunities to:

Medical device researchers

Researchers can develop new and more effective means of controlling and correcting "electrical shorts" and heart arrythmias, which can lead to SCA. Science Care Donors have assisted in the development of:

  • More technologically advanced pacemakers, including those which are implanted directly in the heart and do not require the surgical creation of a ‘pacemaker pocket’ on the chest, and do not require the long wires (leads) usually associated with traditional pacemaker placement.
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), which are similar to pacemakers, but ICDs have the ability to sense an abnormal heart rate or rhythm and generate an acute electrical jolt to a patient’s system, instantly correcting the arrythmia.  
  • More effective, less invasive means of cardiac ablation. This procedure is employed to create scar tissue within the heart. The targeted, precise production of scar tissue is intended to block or stop irregular electrical signals within the heart that can lead to an irregular or uneven heartbeat. 

Cardiac surgeons

Because of body donors, cardiac surgeons can hone their surgical skills such as those used in coronary bypass procedures. Surgeons can also develop more effective, less invasive techniques and procedures in the performance of coronary bypass which allow for faster patient recovery times and an increased ability to be physical active following recovery.

Pharmaceutical researchers

Developing and producing new medications to support heart health and functionality is critical. Body donors contribute to more efficient medication delivery systems which allow for more precise, targeted delivery of medication and reduced dosages.

Improving heart health for all

Medical professionals are hard at work increasing their knowledge of heart functionality, enhancing their caregiving skills, and developing new means to combat SCA in patients.

Advancements seen in medical science specific to heart health would not be possible without the without the generous, selfless gift left to society by those who chose to donate their body to science following their passing. Our most heartfelt and sincere thanks are extended to all those who chose to donate to improve the health, longevity and quality of life for this, and future generations.

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