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5 Things You Need to Know About SCA

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). If the name doesn’t scare you, the statistics will. It’s the number one killer of student athletes and the number one cause of death on school campuses, carrying a fatality rate of 95 percent. Meaning if 100 people were to experience SCA, 95 would die. You probably haven’t heard a lot about this condition, but here’s what you should know:

Every second counts
SCA is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. The individual will collapse, failing to respond or breathe normally. They may gasp or shake as if having a seizure. SCA result in death in minutes if help isn’t delivered immediately. Survival depends on people nearby calling 911, starting CPR, and using an AED (automated external defibrillator) as soon as possible.

Anyone can be affected
SCA can strike anyone, even those that appear healthy like children and teens, which makes the condition particularly frightening.

It claims more than 356,000 lives each year, earning SCA the designation of leading cause of death in the United States. As well as the leading contributor to the number two medical cause of death for individuals under the age of 25.

It’s not a heart attack
A heart attack occurs when there’s an obstruction in a coronary artery that interrupts blood flow to a working heart. With SCA, there’s no obstruction. The underlying causes are often electrical or structural heart abnormalities that you’re born with or can develop as you grow.

It’s not being tracked in youth
Unfortunately, there’s no current national mandatory and systematic registry in place that records instances of SCA/SCD in youth. Leading many studies conducted to produce inconsistent findings and results, which impedes the standardization of prevention practices.

While there’s no definitive number on how many youths are affected by SCA annually, the American Heart Association reports numbers around 9,5001. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute calls the situation a critical public health issue.

Parent Heart Watch is an outspoken advocate for the creation of this database. We hope the establishment of such a system can help provide accurate data to researchers and strategists that can aid in SCA and SCD prevention efforts.


1 Given there is no mandatory or systematic registry for sudden cardiac arrest/death in youth and the stats reported annually greatly fluctuate PHW utilizes the stat reported in the Heart Disease & Stroke Statistics 2014 Update – A report from the American Heart Association.

5 Things You Need to Know About SCA
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