Sudden Cardiac Arrests Not Always That Sudden; Early
Warnings Signs Sometimes
More than half of men studied who had a sudden
cardiac arrest had symptoms up to a month before
Nov. 19, 2013 - Sudden cardiac arrest isn’t always
so sudden, according to research presented at the American Heart
Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013. In a study of middle-age men up
to age 65 in Portland, Oregon, more than half had possible warning signs
up to a month before their hearts stopped abruptly.
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops due to a
failure in its electrical system. Patients can sometimes survive if they
receive CPR immediately and a defibrillator is used quickly to shock the
heart into a normal rhythm.
About 360,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are
reported each year in the United States, according to the American Heart
Association. Only 9.5 percent of people who suffer a cardiac arrest
outside the hospital survive.
“By the time rescuers get there, it’s much too
late,” said Eloi Marijon, M.D., study lead author and a visiting
scientist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.
The new research is part of the 11-year-old Oregon
Sudden Unexpected Death Study, which involves 1 million people in the
Portland metro area. Researchers gathered information about the symptoms
and health history of men 35 to 65 years old who had out-of-hospital
cardiac arrests in 2002-12.
Among 567 men who had out-of-hospital cardiac
arrests, 53 percent had symptoms prior to the cardiac arrest. Of those
with symptoms, 56 percent had chest pain, 13 percent had shortness of
breath and 4 percent had dizziness, fainting or palpitations.
Almost 80 percent of the symptoms occurred between
four weeks and one hour before the sudden cardiac arrest, he said.
Most men had coronary artery disease, but only
about half had been tested for it before their cardiac arrest.
Researchers are conducting similar work in women.
“The lesson is, if you have these kinds of
symptoms, please don’t blow them off,” said Sumeet Chugh, M.D., senior
author and associate director for genomic cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai
Heart Institute.“Go see your healthcare provider. Don’t waste time.”
Co-authors are Kyndaron Reinier, Ph.D., M.P.H.;
Audrey Evanado, M.D.; Carmen Teodorescu, M.D., Ph.D.; Kumar Narayanan,
M.D.; Adriana Huertas Vazquez, Ph.D.; Harpriya Chugh, B.E.; Katherine
Jerger, B.S.; Ronald Mariani, E.M.T.P.; Eric Stecker, M.D., M.P.H.;
Karen Gunson, M.D.; and Jonathan Jui, M.D., M.P.H. Author disclosures
are on the abstract.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
American Heart Association and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
funded the study.