Sudden Cardiac Death (Cardiac Arrest)

What is Sudden Cardiac Death?

Sudden Cardiac Death is preventable. At The Hoffman Heart and Vascular Institute of Connecticut, we specialize in implanting ICDs (implantable cardioverter-defibrillators). These devices have been proven to save lives.

If you think you might be at risk, or if you believe that you may need an ICD, contact your doctor or call us.

Sudden cardiac death (or cardiac arrest) refers to the sudden loss of life generally caused by a lethal arrhythmia. People can die suddenly for a variety of reasons, but heart rhythm problems are usually the cause. More than 680 people experience sudden death each day in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. That is more than 250,000 people each year. Sudden death is not a heart attack, although some people with heart attacks may also have a cardiac arrest.

Who is at Risk?

In general, heart attack survivors have a higher risk for sudden death than the general population. Your doctor may help to evaluate your risk. But if you answer "yes to any of these questions, your risk might be higher:

  • Do you have congestive heart failure?
  • Have you ever had a heart attack?
  • Has your doctor ever told you that you have a weak heart?
  • Do you have family members who have died suddenly?

A Simple Number That Could Save your Life

Your ejection fraction, or EF, refers to the amount of blood that is pumped out of the heart with each heartbeat. A normal, healthy heart pumps 55-75% of its blood per beat (an EF of 55-75%). But when a heart pumps less than 30 - 35% of its blood with each beat, it may indicate enough damage to the heart muscle to increase your risk of heart rhythm problems and even sudden death. Ask your doctor what your ejection fraction is. Your doctor can measure it in a variety of ways, most commonly with a painless test called an echocardiogram.