Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

People often confuse sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) with heart attacks. The two cardiac conditions are completely different and having a clear understanding of the distinctions could be lifesaving.

Would you know what to do if someone suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in your presence? Find out what happens to the body, the symptoms to look out for and what you can do to help in such a situation.

Sudden cardiac arrests are commonly caused by an electrical disturbance in the heart which disrupts the pumping action and stops blood flowing to
the rest of the body.

People commonly mistake sudden cardiac arrests for heart attacks. Although people with heart disease are at higher risk of suffering from SCA, it can just as
easily happen to people who are fit and healthy.


Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people aged under 35 die from undiagnosed cardiac conditions.


Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United Kingdom, accounting for an estimated 100,000 deaths each year.


Sudden Cardiac Death in those aged 35 years or less is more common in males than females.

The symptoms for sudden cardiac arrest happen quickly and are extremely severe.

If you suspect someone has suffered sudden cardiac arrest, you should look out for the following:

  • Sudden Collapse
  • No Pulse
  • Not Breathing
  • Loss of Consciousness

Although some people do experience symptoms, the majority of sudden cardiac arrests victims do not. In these circumstances, people will still suffer from dizziness before collapsing.

The less severe symptoms sometimes happen before sudden cardiac arrest, but SCAs commonly occur without any warning.

With a Defibrillator

If there is a defibrillator in close vicinity, you should use it. Defibrillators are simple to use and if applied within five minutes, can increase the chance of survival from 6% to 74%.

A defibrillator works by applying an electrical current to the chest wall or heart in order to shock it into stopping. This allows the heart to start contracting at a regular rhythm once again.

Even if there is a defibrillator nearby, you should still call for an ambulance.

Without a Defibrillator

If there is no access to a defibrillator, you should make sure that someone phones for an ambulance and that CPR is performed.

In the event of sudden cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping and the supply of oxygen is disrupted. The cells in the body then start to die. Performing CPR can help the heart to continue pumping oxygenated blood around the body.