A heart attack is different from a sudden cardiac arrest or SCA. A heart attack is a condition where the heart is pumping, but there is a blockage preventing blood flow to the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle. Patients who suffer a heart attack may have a stent placed or a bypass procedure to restore blood flow.
A sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating effectively. Electrical impulses cue the heart, and if these impulses are disturbed, the heart’s rhythm can be affected, causing a condition called an arrhythmia. In some cases, electrical impulses cause the heart to beat so fast that it is shaking or quivering. The heart cannot effectively pump blood to the brain and body, which may cause an individual to lose consciousness abruptly. SCA can be fatal if it is not treated within minutes.
During a sudden cardiac arrest event, critical emergency care is required as fast as possible, even before the ambulance or other medical personnel arrive. When someone has an SCA, it can be unnerving, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms ahead of time so that you can react quickly.
In some cases, there is an abrupt and total loss of consciousness. Victims are not breathing normally and can be unresponsive. At this point, call 911, and if possible, begin lifesaving measures. Start CPR or use an automated external defibrillator (AED), if one is available. Defibrillators are medical devices that apply a controlled electric shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm.
For certain heart patients who are known to be at risk for SCA, they may be wearing a ZOLL LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) if it has been prescribed by their doctor. LifeVest is a medical device that is worn under clothing and directly against the patient’s skin. The LifeVest WCD is designed to detect certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms and automatically provide a treatment shock to save the patient’s life.