During sudden cardiac arrest, your heart suddenly stops beating and no longer pumps blood to your body. This is different from a heart attack.
Cardiac arrest is very dangerous and can lead to death if your heart doesn't restart in minutes.
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
Sudden cardiac arrest is when your heart stops beating, and it no longer pumps blood to your body.
Cardiac arrest isn't the same as a heart attack.
In a heart attack, blood flow to your heart muscle gets blocked, causing part of your heart muscle to die. During cardiac arrest, your heart stops completely.
Cardiac arrest leads to death if someone doesn't get your heart restarted within minutes.
Many people who have cardiac arrest don't know they have a heart problem.
Sudden cardiac arrest often happens because of a problem with the heart's electrical system. The heart beats too fast and irregularly, a problem called ventricular fibrillation.
Some heart conditions can increase the risk of cardiac arrest, including:
Illegal drugs — such as opioids, cocaine, and amphetamines — can also increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
With advanced imaging techniques and a range of minimally invasive treatments, our program is the largest of its kind in western Pennsylvania.
Cardiac arrest happens suddenly without warning.
Signs of cardiac arrest to look for
Someone having sudden cardiac arrest may:
If someone is showing signs of cardiac arrest, call 911 and start CPR or use a defibrillator right away.
Once you're at the hospital, doctors may order tests to learn the cause of cardiac arrest and the extent of physical damage.
Imaging scans and tests to assess neurological function and brain activity after sudden cardiac arrest include:
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent sudden cardiac arrest.
Ways you can improve your heart health include:
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute also has a range of heart health community programs.
Sudden cardiac arrest is an emergency.
When cardiac arrest happens, the first step is to restart the heart immediately.
Someone needs to perform CPR or use an automated external defibrillator (AED) right away. An AED is a device that shocks the heart to start it pumping again.
You should also call 911. After restarting the heart, the person needs to get to the emergency room.
ER doctors will try to learn the cause of the cardiac arrest and prevent it from happening again.
Treatments for heart rhythm disorders can help prevent cardiac arrest, such as: