This Heart-Stopping Condition May Have Warning Signs

researching sudden cardiac death prevention for about 20 years. “But some patients also have vague symptoms.” People at risk — those with coronary artery disease or multiple risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and smoking — shouldn’t ignore the symptoms, said Al-Khatib, who was not involved in the new study.

The statistics are grim. Of the more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year in the United States, nearly 90 percent of them are fatal, according to statistics from the AHA.

Sudden cardiac arrest happens when an electrical disturbance in the heart causes it to stop abruptly, halting the flow of blood to the brain and vital organs. Death can follow within minutes if the heart rhythm is not restored with an electrical shock.

About a quarter of cardiac arrest patients treated by emergency medical workers don’t experience symptoms, AHA statistics show.

“That’s where the challenge is,” Al-Khatib said. “If you have clear symptoms, seek medical attention, and if you have risk factors, even if the symptoms are vague, seek medical attention and be assertive and ask the right questions.

“But there is a group of patients out there who have no symptoms, unfortunately, and the first thing they

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