Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart abruptly stops beating. It is a medical emergency requiring immediate intervention. If someone near you experiences sudden cardiac arrest, call 911 immediately.
Find a Doctor at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican hospitals or take our heart risk assessment to learn more about your risk of sudden cardiac arrest in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV.
Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest
The signs of cardiac arrest are very clear: a person whose heart suddenly stops beating will quickly lose consciousness and collapse. Because the heart has stopped pumping, there will be no pulse. The person will not respond to sounds, voices, or painful stimuli (such as pinching or rubbing the breastbone hard). When cardiac arrest occurs, the person also stops breathing.
The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) — the heart is beating faster or slower than it should. Even under these circumstances, you are not likely to find a pulse.
Signs and symptoms of an arrhythmia can come on just before sudden cardiac arrest. They include:
Causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest
An arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation is a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest. Ventricular fibrillation occurs when the large chambers of the heart (the ventricles) stop beating in rhythm and instead begin to quiver or flutter. Without a strong, rhythmic contraction by the ventricles, oxygen-rich blood cannot reach the tissues — including the brain and the heart itself. Eventually, the heart will stop beating.
Ventricular tachycardia can also cause sudden cardiac arrest. This type of arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too fast to sustain a rhythm.
Arrhythmias that trigger sudden cardiac arrest can be caused by many things, including:
- Problem with the heart’s electrical signaling, including Long QT syndrome or Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
- Prior heart attack or heart surgery that caused scarring of the cardiac tissue
- Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart) due to conditions such as heart failure, high blood pressure, or heart valve problems
- Side effects from medications used to correct an abnormal heart rhythm
- Severe dehydration or severe electrolyte imbalances
- Drug abuse
SCA Treatment at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals
The treatment and prevention of sudden cardiac arrest depends on the cause. Someone in cardiac arrest may survive with immediate treatment.
Treatment of sudden cardiac arrest includes:
- Calling 911 for emergency medical responders
- Initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Using an automated external defibrillator (AED), if available
Our team of cardiologists at St. Rose Dominican bring expertise in treating SCA to the Las Vegas Valley. We also offer a variety of support groups and wellness education including fitness, nutrition, and smoking cessation classes.
Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican hospitals offers care for sudden cardiac arrest in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV.