What is sudden cardiac arrest?


Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is what happens when the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly. Out of nowhere, the patient’s heart stops pumping blood.


Is SCA the same thing as a heart attack?


No. With SCA, the heart simply stops beating and blood stops pumping throughout the body. A person collapses. A heart attack occurs when an artery gets blocked and part of the heart stops receiving blood flow. A person can remain conscious during a heart attack. Check out our infographic.


How common is sudden cardiac arrest in children?


The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that two thousand children die every year. It is the leading cause of death of student athletes. However, the actual number of children is not well established. A registry was created in 2013 to begin tracking the sudden death of children.


What causes sudden cardiac arrest in children?


There are two types of heart conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest in children: structural and electrical. A structural defect prevents the heart from working properly – it’s too big or the parts are in the wrong place. An electrical defect interrupts the heart’s rhythm.


Are there warning signs?


Sometimes. A study showed that seventy-two percent of students who died from SCA did have a warning sign. The warning signs are fainting or seizures during exercise, unexplained shortness of breath, dizziness, extreme fatigue and/or a racing heart. If a family member died suddenly and unexpectedly under the age of 50, you should consult with your physician. Download our warning signs sheet.