What is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death?
Sudden cardiac arrest (also called sudden cardiac death) is the leading cause of natural, non-accidental death in the U.S., claiming well over 300,000 lives each year. As its name implies, sudden cardiac death occurs when the heart abruptly stops functioning the way it’s supposed to, typically triggering unconsciousness and loss of breathing, followed by death. Even when death does not occur, the sudden loss of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in just a few minutes.
Sudden cardiac death occurs most often when the electrical impulses inside the heart are interrupted. Normally, these impulses help the heart beat regularly and predictably. When they’re interrupted, the heart no longer functions the way it’s supposed to – and that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death. But what causes those electrical impulses to become disrupted in the first place?
Sudden Cardiac Death: Underlying Causes
In most cases, sudden cardiac death occurs in people who have underlying heart disease already, like arrhythmia, valve disease or other cardiac problems. Cardiac infections and lifestyle factors like obesity and smoking can also increase the risk of having a sudden cardiac arrest. Often, these issues have not been diagnosed, making sudden death much more likely.
Sudden cardiac arrest often has no “warning” symptoms. However, in some cases, it may be preceded by symptoms similar to those experienced before a heart attack, like:
shortness of breath
palpitations or other rhythm irregularities
If you have any type of heart disease or if you have risk factors for heart disease, it’s important to do all you can to protect your heart and optimize your cardiovascular health. That means:
- quitting smoking
- eating a diet low in unhealthy fats and high in fiber
- being moderately physically active (regular walking is a great option)
- maintaining a healthy weight
- having routine physical exams to identify – and treat – other chronic diseases, like diabetes
Understand your risks – and how to reduce them.
One of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk for sudden cardiac death – and to improve your heart health overall – is to have a complete cardiac evaluation and risk assessment. As a top provider of cardiovascular care and treatment in the greater Phoenix, AZ, area, Tri-City Cardiology offers comprehensive cardiac health evaluations for men and women of all ages. Evaluations are designed not only to identify your unique risks, but also to provide you with action steps you can take to start improving your heart health right away. Play a more active role in maintaining your cardiovascular health. Call Tri-City Cardiology at 480-835-6100 to schedule a consultation appointment today and learn what you can do to keep your heart as healthy as possible at every age and every stage of life.