The Century Old Heart Test That May Predict Sudden Cardiac Death

The Century Old Heart Test That May Predict Sudden Cardiac Death

NBC recently reported on research led by Sumeet Chugh, MD, at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute on a new risk assessment tool that brings physicians closer to predicting who is most likely to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, a condition that is fatal in more than 90 percent of patients.. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation worked with NBC on the story. A preview follows.

It was a typical day for 43-year-old traveling nurse, Lynn Howard. She was visiting a patient at their home when she suddenly felt dizzy and lost consciousness. The Buffalo native woke up a few days later in a hospital bed with a breathing tube.

Earlier this month, the mother of three suffered a sudden cardiac arrest – a condition so deadly that more than 90 percent of people don’t survive. Clinically, she died. But luckily for Howard, the patient she was caring and her husband were paramedics. They started CPR and saved her life.

“I can't wrap my brain around it still, I had no health problems before this,” said Howard. “I was at the right place at the right time with two paramedics right in front of me. It's the only way I survived.”

Unlike a heart attack which occurs when one or more coronary arteries are blocked, a sudden cardiac arrest occurs following a short circuit in the heart. According to the American Heart Association, this electrical problem strikes more than 350,000 people each year—about 1,000 every day.

The only way to prevent a sudden cardiac arrest is with the use of an implantable defibrillator which shocks the heart back to a normal rhythm. Until recently, no test can predict when a sudden cardiac arrest will happen and who’s at high risk for needing a defibrillator.

“By the time cardiac arrest happens, it’s way too late,” said Dr. Sumeet Chugh, associate director of Genomic Cardiologyat Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. “Every minute that passes there's a ten percent chance of dying. Ten minutes and you're gone.” More...

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