Cardiac Arrest

Treatment and Preventions of sudden cardiac Arrest


The only effective treatment for sudden cardiac arrest, SCA, is as soon as possible to restore the heart’s normal rhythm by using an automated external defibrillator, or AED, to deliver a shock to the heart. For every minute that passes without treatment, a person’s chance of surviving drops by 7% to 10%.  

People who happen to be in the area during the event play a critical role in saving lives. Their action can mean the difference between life and death.

What to Do?

  1. Call 911 or have someone else call if other people are available.
  2. Start CPR at once while waiting for emergency help to arrive.
  3. Ask another person to find the nearest AED. AEDs are portable devices found in EMS vehicles and public places. They give simple instructions and are programmed to identify an electrical problem and shock the heart.  

People who survive an SCA need advanced emergency and cardiac care. Doctors will use basic cardiac testing to identify the cause of SCA, and adjust treatment.

For some patients, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) placed under the skin may be needed. ICDs can detect an abnormal rhythm and send low shocks to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat.


Because most cases of sudden cardiac arrest, SCA, occur in people who have had a heart attack, or who have hearts with lowered ability to pump blood (called a low ejection fraction) or heart failure, health care teams can take steps to prevent a repeat event.

It is critical that people who survive sudden cardiac arrest follow their treatment plan.Otherwise, the best approach is to live a healthy lifestyle by:

  • Eating a diet low in saturated and trans fats, and high in soluble fiber and fruits and vegetables
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting to a healthy weight and keeping it
  • Managing stress
  • Quitting smoking

What Else Can You Do?

Know how to respond if someone is in sudden cardiac arrest. Survival rates could double or triple if more people take action and know what to do, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

  • Know the warning signs of an SCA.
  • Act fast. Chance of survival goes down for every minute treatment is delayed. Don’t waste time debating whether it’s SCA.
  • Take a CPR class or brush up on your skills if you’ve taken one.
  • Learn how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED), and where they can be found.

Keep in mind:

  • AEDs are not in all places. Do not delay CPR or calling 911 if an AED is not available.
  • AEDs at home don’t seem to affect survival. This could be because many who have an SCA at home are alone.

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