Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a potentially fatal condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. It is usually caused by ventricular fibrillation, an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system. When SCA occurs, blood stops flowing to the brain, heart and other vital organs, causing loss of consciousness or seizure-like activity in a matter of seconds. The victim is clinically dead and will remain so unless someone helps immediately.
Normal heart rhythm can only be restored with defibrillation, which is an electrical shock that is safely delivered to the chest by an automated external defibrillator (AED).
SCA is the No. 1 killer of Americans over the age of 40, but it does not discriminate based on age. The American Heart Association estimates about 9,500 youths are affected by SCA annually, making it the leading cause of death in the United States for student-athletes during exercise. In fact, the death rate for youth SCA events is reportedly as high as 95%.