Warning Signs of Cardiac Arrest

New research reveals that certain symptoms may appear before cardiac arrest. Understanding how to recognize these symptoms can save someone’s life.

According to a recently published study in the Lance Digital Health, nine out of 10 people who experience sudden cardiac arrest, outside of a hospital setting, die (1). One of the reasons that cardiac arrest is deadly is that many people believe it comes without warning. The research suggests that telltale symptoms may appear before cardiac arrest. For men, the main symptom before cardiac arrest is the unexpected onset of chest pain, and for women, it’s the unexpected onset of shortness of breath. These signs may occur 24 hours before sudden cardiac arrest.

“50% of men and women report these warning symptoms before cardiac arrest,” study author Sumeet Chugh, MD, tells The Healthy@Reader’s Digest. He is the Pauline and Harold Price Chair in Cardiac Electrophysiology Research, medical director of the Heart Rhythm Center in the Department of Cardiology.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops pumping blood and are caused by certain types of arrhythmias or heart rhythm abnormalities that prevent the heart from pumping blood.

The first sign of cardiac arrest is often a loss of consciousness, and from there, people are on the clock. According to Dr. Chugh, there’s a 10% chance of death for every minute that goes by, and within 10 minutes, most people will be dead.

Recognizing early warning signs, however, could dramatically improve a person’s odds of survival. If you or someone you know experiences these early warning signs, please call 911.

May you enjoy abundant health,

Rick Christman, MPH

1) Warning symptoms associated with imminent sudden cardiac arrest: a population-based case-control study with external validation – The Lancet Digital Health


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