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Sports Medicine Moment: Cardiac Conditions – Sudden Cardiac Arrest

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Sports Medicine Moment: Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Written By: Tristen Robinson

Tristen Robinson, M.S., ATC, LAT is a BUZZ Gear Up Blogger and an instructor at Andrew Jackson High School, for the sports medicine magnet program. Checkout the program’s Facebook page at Andrew Jackson High School Sports Medicine.

The heart, along with the brain, is one of many amazing components that makes up the human body. If you think about it, the heart is a muscle that starts in the womb and doesn’t stop working until we are deceased. Some conditions of the heart are preventable (e.g. coronary artery disease, heart disease), but some are not. One condition that is almost impossible to prevent is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

When some think about SCA, they associate it with the same thing as a heart attack. This is not the case. A heart attack is when there is blockage in a blood vessel of the heart. Heart attacks typically are not sudden, but last several hours. SCA is when the heart stops abruptly, without warning. Both heart attacks and SCA affect the hearts ability to pump blood to the body and in particular, the brain. In both cases, time is of the essence. Heart attack symptoms are more obvious than SCA. You essentially won’t know about a SCA episode until, the person has passed out and possibly lost consciousness.

Immediate treatment and care is imperative to save someone’s life who has suffered from SCA. Once it has been determined that it is in fact SCA, CPR should begin immediately; at the very least, chest compressions. More effective is the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). An AED is a device that can measure the electrical impulse of the heart and determine if an electrical shock is needed to restart the heart. If you know someone is experiencing a SCA episode (no pulse and no breathing) dial 911 immediately; then begin chest compressions until the arrival of an AED. Continue the chest compressions while the AED is being placed on the chest. Stop compressions once the AED is on and analyzing the heart.

According to the Heart Rhythm Society, SCA accounts for approximately 350,000 deaths a year; approximately claiming one life every 90 seconds. The individuals that pass away due to SCA, usually pass away as a result of ineffective or untimely care. SCA can happen anywhere, to anyone. Chances are increased with pre-existing heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyothopy (HCM) as mentioned in the previous article. Most health care professionals, and specifically those in the sports medicine field are CPR and AED certified. If you are interested in becoming CPR and AED certified, you may go to ;

Neither BUZZ magazine nor myself endorse any one particular CPR or AED course.

To read more about SCA go to:


This has been your sports medicine moment…