What is sudden cardiac arrest?

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Sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA, is an abrupt and unforeseen occurrence where the heart ceases to beat, leading to an instant halt of blood flow to the brain and other essential organs. This is a medical crisis that can result in death if not addressed quickly. Sudden cardiac arrest is distinct from a heart attack, although a heart attack can occasionally precipitate sudden cardiac arrest. During an SCA, the heart's electrical system malfunctions, causing the heart to beat erratically—an arrhythmia—or cease beating altogether. This inhibits the heart's capacity to pump blood efficiently, depriving the brain and other crucial organs of oxygen. Without immediate intervention, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), brain damage and death can occur within a few minutes. Causes of sudden cardiac arrest encompass coronary artery disease, structural heart issues, inherited heart disorders, and electrical problems in the heart. It is critical to identify the signs of SCA, which may include a sudden loss of responsiveness, absence of pulse or breathing, and gasping for air. Immediate actions like contacting the emergency services, performing CPR, and using an AED can significantly enhance the likelihood of survival and recovery.