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Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)

Sudden cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. SCA usually results from an electrical disturbance in the heart that disrupts its pumping action, arresting blood flow. It occurs more frequently in males and children between the ages of 10 and 19.

An arrhythmia is the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest.

If not treated immediately, sudden cardiac arrest can lead to death. With fast, appropriate medical intervention, survival is possible.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of SCA include:

  • Sudden collapse
  • Loss of pulse and loss of spontaneous breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Sometimes other signs and symptoms of an underlying heart condition occur before sudden cardiac arrest. These can include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Palpitations
  • Fainting or seizure during exercise


The cardiac condition leading to sudden cardiac arrest is often not known to the patient before the event. For patients surviving SCA, a Deborah Specialty Physician will perform tests to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan to help prevent future events, as well as provide recommendations for screening potentially affected family members if an inherited cardiac condition is identified or suspected. Testing may include:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Heart rhythm monitoring
  • Exercise stress test
  • Blood tests
  • Genetic testing