Risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest, also called SCA, occurs when there is a malfunction in the electrical system of the heart. This causes a sudden loss of heart function. If emergency care is not given immediately, loss of life can occur in minutes. Although there are not usually any signs of SCA before it occurs, knowing your risk factors can help you take steps to prevent if from happening to you. Here is a closer look at some of the risk factors for SCA.

Arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, are common triggers for SCA. Not every kind of arrhythmia is considered to be a significant contributor to SCA risks, but if you have ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, or severe bradycardia, your heart doctor may discuss treatment options such as an implanted defibrillator with you.

Arrhythmias that increase the risk of SCA are called life-threatening arrhythmias. A cardiologist should closely monitor them.

Heart tissue scarring
Scarring of the heart tissue can happen for many different reasons, however, most people experience it after surviving a heart attack. The longer the heart attack proceeded without treatment, the more tissue is likely to be scarred.

Heart tissue scarring often causes life-threatening arrhythmias, which in turn can cause SCA. The first six months after a heart attack are especially high risk for SCA caused by heart issue scarring.

It may seem counterintuitive for medications that are used to treat arrhythmias to cause them, but that is exactly what happens in some cases. Anti-arrhythmic medications sometimes cause ventricular arrhythmias that increase the risk of SCA.

Other medications can boost the risk of SCA as well, including diuretics, which can cause a change in levels of potassium and magnesium that are necessary to maintain heart function.

The West Hills Regional Heart & Vascular Institute is committed to improving heart health in the West Hills community. We offer comprehensive heart care for a wide range of cardiac issues, plus specialized critical and emergency care. Get a referral to a heart health specialist by calling West Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (818) 676-4321.