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Sudden Cardiac Death - Causes

By Vicki Mozo


Sudden cardiac death, also sometimes referred to as sudden cardiac arrest, is one of the most appalling consequences of heart dysfunction. It is characterized by an unexpected death of a person generally an hour following the onset of symptoms. Find out the causes of cardiac arrest that could lead to unexpected death. In doing so, you could thwart the risk of falling into a sudden death syndrome.


Causes of sudden cardiac death

Sudden cardiac death is said to have claimed about seven million lives each year from around the world. Men are more vulnerable than women based on the prevailing ratio of 3:1. The leading cause of sudden cardiac death is arrhythmias, which pertain to irregular heart rhythms. The most common form of arrhythmia associated with sudden cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation (v-fib). In v-fib, the ventricles of the heart beat significantly faster than usual. If it continues the heart could not pump enough blood to the body. When this happens, the person would have to face immediate and sudden death, especially when not treated soon enough. Another cause of sudden cardiac death is a dysfunctional heart electrical system. When the cardiac muscles fail to respond to electrical signals of the heart, the affected heart muscle beats slowly until it eventually stops.


Risk factors

The most prevalent risk factor that makes a person more susceptible to sudden cardiac arrest is heart disease. Coronary heart disease is a disease of the heart wherein the coronary arteries could not supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle due to plaque build-up in these arteries. A dreadful outcome is looming when the plaque detaches from the artery. This leads to dreary physiological event such as blood clot forming at the site that may partially or fully block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. When this happens, a massive heart attack may occur.


A person who has survived a heart attack has higher risk of a fatal cardiac arrest. This is because the heart muscles affected by a heart attack die and replaced by scar tissues that disrupt the normal electrical signals of the heart.


Other risk factors include hereditary heart disorders such as the Brugada syndrome, which is a genetic disease that causes a person to demonstrate abnormal ECG results. Physical stress from extensive physical workouts and activities, unusually low levels of potassium or magnesium (e.g. from using diuretic drugs), and enlargement of the heart from hypertension have all been named as crucial risk factors. Obesity and diabetes have also been said to increase tendency to sudden cardiac arrest.



This article is intended to provide information, not to replace medical or professional advice.

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