What is Sudden Cardiac Death?

The heart’s electrical system controls the heartbeat. When this system fails, it may trigger a dangerously fast heartbeat. This fast heartbeat causes the heart to quiver or shake instead of pumping blood to the body and brain. When this happens, you can suddenly pass out. This is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It occurs without warning. Without treatment, death occurs in minutes. This is sudden cardiac death (SCD).

SCD has No Warning Signs

Electrical malfunction causes the heart to stop beating effectively

The heart cannot supply blood to the body & brain

Unlike a heart attack, there are no signs or symptoms

Victim suddenly passes out and is unable to call for help

How can I be protected from sudden cardiac death?

A life-threatening heart rhythm can occur at any time and without warning. The most effective treatment to stop or correct an irregular heart rhythm is defibrillation, which is an electrical shock to get the heart back to a normal rhythm.

The LifeVest® wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) provides a constant safeguard against sudden cardiac death. If you have a life-threatening heart rhythm while wearing the LifeVest WCD, it will automatically deliver a shock to save your life. No matter where you are or the time of day, the LifeVest WCD will protect you from SCD. LifeVest protects you even when you are alone. It is therefore critical that you wear the LifeVest WCD at all times—including while you sleep.

The Most Effective Treatment for Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a Defibrillation Shock

Sudden cardiac death is not a heart attack

Some people confuse sudden cardiac death with a heart attack, but they are not the same. A heart attack is caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to part or parts of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle. With a heart attack, you may feel severe chest pain or other symptoms. You usually remain awake and can call for help.

With SCD, on the other hand, there are no signs that something is about to happen – you suddenly lose consciousness and are not able to call for help. It can happen whether you are awake or asleep.

Sudden Cardiac Death vs Heart Attack

Sudden Cardiac Death

  • An electrical malfunction causes a dangerously fast heartbeat
  • No signs or symptoms
  • Victims pass out quickly

Heart Attack

  • A blockage stops blood flow to the heart
  • Severe chest pain & other symptoms
  • Victims usually remain awake

Who is at risk of sudden cardiac death?

The risk of sudden cardiac death is high for people who have heart disease. You may be at a higher risk for SCD if you have or experience one of the following:

  • A low ejection fraction (EF) or weak heart muscle
  • Prior heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • A history of sudden cardiac death in your family
  • A viral infection in your heart
  • Other risk factors for SCD include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and high cholesterol.

No matter your condition, it is important to remember that LifeVest is a constant safeguard against sudden cardiac death. With the LifeVest WCD, you and your loved ones should have peace of mind knowing that you will be protected.6

What is ejection fraction?

Ejection Fraction (EF) refers to how well your heart is pumping. It is the percentage of blood that is pumped out of the heart’s main pumping chamber during each heartbeat. Your doctor is able to tell how well your heart is pumping based on your EF number. If your EF is low, meaning 35% or lower, then you are at increased risk for sudden cardiac death. It is important to know that your EF can change over time.

What Does Your Ejection Fraction Mean?

55-70%

Your heart’s pumping ability is

NORMAL
35% & Lower

Your heart’s pumping ability is

LOW

* Outside the hospital

5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016 Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) Summary Report: Demographic and Survival Characteristics of OHCA. https://mycares.net/sitepages/uploads/2017/2016%20Non-Traumatic%20National%20Summary%20Report.pdf. Accessed May 12, 2017.

6 Whiting J, Simon M. Health and lifestyle benefits resulting from wearable cardioverter-defibrillator use. The Journal of Innovations in Cardiac Rhythm Management 2012;1–2.