Posted on 05/15/2013

Annual incidence of death from selected causesThe Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, a national nonprofit organization, will participate in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community on Saturday, May 18 in Pittsburgh, PA, to raise awareness about the nation’s leading cause of death and help save lives. Survivors and families affected by sudden cardiac death are urged to join or support the team here.

PITTSBURGH, PA--Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), an abrupt, unexpected pulseless condition, is a much bigger public health problem than most people realize. It affects nearly 360,000 people each year in the U.S., including youth, and only 10% of victims survive. [1] For most unsuspecting victims, dropping dead is the first indication of a heart problem.

To grasp the enormous scope of this life-threatening condition, consider the following: 
  • The annual incidence of death from SCA is eight times higher than the death toll from breast cancer (~324,000 SCA deaths vs. ~40,000 deaths from breast cancer) [2];
  • The annual incidence of death from SCA is 10 times higher than the death toll from gun shot wounds (~324,000 SCA deaths vs. ~30,000 deaths from gun shot wounds) [3];
  • The number of people who die each year from house fires is roughly equivalent to number of people who die every 34 hours from SCA (~1,250 each) [4].

The good news is that when SCA victims are treated quickly with CPR and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) before emergency medical services arrive at the scene, survival rates jump to about 40%. [5] If the national average survival rate rose to 40%, more than 100,000 additional lives could be saved each year.

Award-winning TV news journalist and sudden cardiac arrest survivor, Susan Koeppen, understands this first hand. “Knowing CPR and how to use an AED are key to saving someone who goes into cardiac arrest. Doing something is better than doing nothing in an emergency situation,” said Koeppen, who serves as National Spokesperson for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation aims to elevate the national dialogue about sudden cardiac arrest through multiple initiatives, including its participation in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community on May 18 in Pittsburgh. Highmark underwrites the cost of the walk for more than 68 health and human service organizations, so that all monies go directly to the charity of choice.

“We invite people who have survived sudden cardiac arrest and those who have lost loved ones to SCA to join or support our team,” said Mary Newman, MS, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation president. “Together, we will help the public better understand the critical need to call 911, give CPR, and use AEDs to save lives threatened by sudden cardiac arrest.”

CPR-AED demonstrations will be provided at the Foundation booth (No. 55) during the Walk. For information about parking, click here.

Interested parties may join the team or support the team here through June 30. Contributions may also be made here or by sending a check to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, 7500 Brooktree Road, Suite 207, Wexford, PA 15090. 


The individual or team raising the most funds for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation through the 5K walk will win an AED donated by DefibTech, to be awarded the first week of June during National CPR-AED Awareness Week. 

People who contribute $50 or more will be entered into a drawing to win one of these cool prizes provided by Highmark:

  • $200 gift card from Dick's Sporting Goods
  • $200 gift card from Giant Eagle
  • $200 Visa gift card
  • $150 gift card from The Walking Company
  • Pittsburgh Pirates tickets
  • Stage AE tickets
  • Kenny Chesney tickets, June 22 in Pittsburgh

Figures compiled by Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. References:

[1] Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, et al. Heart Disease and stroke statistics--2013 update: A report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. Published online December 12, 2012.
[2] American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Facts & Figures
[3] Centers for Disease Control,
[4] CDC Fire Deaths and Injuries Fact Sheet, 2011
[5] Weisfeldt ML, Sitlani CM, Ornato JP, et al., on behalf of the ROC Investigators. J Am Coll Cardiol 2010;55:1713-1720.

About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation 

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and saving lives. Programs include educational campaigns for secondary schools and colleges and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network.

About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network 

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network, a program of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, is an online community that provides peer support and opportunities for survivors and family members to participate in awareness, advocacy, and research initiatives.