This Heart-Stopping Condition May Have Warning Signs

A heart-stopping condition that causes about half of all cardiovascular-related deaths seems to happen in an instant, with no symptoms.

But several recent studies show that, sometimes, people who experience sudden cardiac arrest have warning signs hours – and even weeks – ahead of time. Experts say that’s why it’s important for everyone to be educated about the signs and to know what to do when someone’s in trouble. It’s also why, for those who seemingly have no symptoms, more research is needed.

A study published Wednesday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation showed symptoms cropped up in about 54 percent of cardiac arrest sports-related cases, with about 71 percent of those having at least one symptom four weeks beforehand. Separate research last year said about 30 percent of athletes were reported to have symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, performance decline, palpitations and fainting before having a cardiac arrest.

But it’s not just limited to athletes, according to research published in 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine that found 50 percent of middle-aged people who had a cardiac arrest had warning symptoms in the four weeks before the lethal event.

“Some of the symptoms can be very clear, and that’s where raising awareness would help,” said Dr. Sana M. Al-Khatib, a professor of medicine at Duke University Hospital who has been