Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)

What Is SCA?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart stops  abruptly, without warning.  It is usually caused by ventricular  fibrillation, an abnormality in the heart's electrical system.  

In this state, the heart fails to pump blood to the body's vital organs.

Without appropriate care, death follows within minutes.

Facts About SCA

- Thousands of children, teens and young adults suffer sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year.

- SCA is two to three times more likely to occur in young athletes than their less active peers.

- SCA is the leading cause of death on school property with one student athlete falling victim to SCA every three to four days.

- An AED, when applied, will only deliver a shock if needed.

- Debfibrillation is the only proven treatment for SCA.

- The American Heart Association estimates that greater  availability and use of AED's could save as many as 40,000 Americans  each year.

What Can You Do?

- Be aware of your family health history.

- Pay attention to SCA signs & symptoms.

- Have an open dialogue and discuss health concerns with doctors and coaches.

- Be Prepared - You can help save a life.

- Become trained in CPR and AED use.

- Find out if your child's school, sporting events and practices are equipped with an AED and trained staff.

- Get your child screened at least once every two years

know the signs & symptoms

Many young SCA victims had no symptoms until the cardiac arrest. Healthy appearing youth & athletes may have an unidentified condition that has the potential to cause SCA.

Warning signs may be present in youth, and all will benefit from knowing these warning signs:

  • Fainting or near fainting during or immediately after exercise
  • Excessive and unexplained fatigue associated with exercise
  • Shortness of breath with exercise
  • Unusual chest pain or discomfort
  • Family history of sudden cardiac arrest
  • Close relatives with conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM),  dilated cardiomyopathy, Long QT syndrome, Marfan syndrome, or  clinically important arrhythmias



A victim of SCA will often complain of feeling "faint" or dizzy. They will rapidly fall unconcscious and may gasp for breath for a short period. If someone collapses and is not breathing, begin the "chain of survival".

  1. Early 911 - Call 911 immediately to get advanced care on the way
  2. Early CPR - As soon as possible to keep blood flowing to vital organs
  3. Early AED - Turn on the Automated External Defibrillator and follow the voice prompts (remember 1 minute = 10% less chance of survival) 
  4. Early Advanced Care - Paramedics, advanced life support systems and personnel