How To Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)

How To Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)

October 11, 2022

Sudden cardiac arrest is a public health crisis! Each year hundreds of thousands of lives are lost. Sudden cardiac arrest affects people of all ages, races, and genders. It does NOT discriminate!
What can we do to protect people against sudden cardiac arrest? There are two major ways that more lives can be saved!

Putting in Place a Complete AED Program

A complete AED Program starts with ensuring there is an AED (automated external defibrillator) within 3 minutes of all locations in your school, business, or organization. When someone suffers sudden cardiac, each minute that goes by without defibrillation drops the chances of survival by 10%. The quicker an AED is used, the higher the chances of survival. Placing AEDS is a good start, but it is NOT enough!
Next, it is important to ensure your AED is ALWAYS ready to save a life. AEDs require minor maintenance and must be checked monthly. When checking your AED, here are some things you should look for:
• Is the readiness indicator on your AED flashing green?
• Does the AED appear to be undamaged and ready for use?
• Is the AED free of chirping and warning notifications?
• Are the AED supplies (CPR/AED rescue kit and electrode pads) available and within their usable dates?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions when checking your AED, you should service your AED right away!
Using a program management system is a great way to maintain your AED. Defibtech offers DefibtechMD, which provides a best-in-class Customer Service team who is ready to help you get the most out of your AED.

Getting CPR, AED, and First Aid Certified

It is also important that you have a large group of people who are prepared to provide CPR and use the AED if needed. This group of people should have CPR/AED/First Aid Certification that is current. Most certifications last two years so it is important to keep them up to date. A list of your Cardiac Emergency Response team members should be maintained and updated frequently. This list should include name, CPR/AED training expiration date, location (office/classroom), and phone number. These people should be contacted immediately in the event of a cardiac emergency.

Have An Emergency Action Plan

Finally, you need to have an Emergency Action plan in place that is written and reviewed frequently. This plan should include:
• Development of Cardiac Emergency Response Team
• The activation of the Cardiac Emergency Response Team
• AED Placement and Maintenance
• Communication of the plan to all staff
• Cardiac Emergency Response Drills
• Engagement with Local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and integration of them into your plan
• Review and evaluation of the Emergency Action Plan annually

Primary Cardiac Arrest Prevention Measures 

Heart Screenings

Another way we can protect against sudden cardiac arrest is by screening hearts and potentially detecting heart disease prior to someone being in a situation where they are suffering from sudden cardiac arrest.
According to Parent Heart Watch, 1 in 300 youth has an undetected heart disease. There are thousands of seemingly healthy youths who suddenly and unexpectedly suffer fatal or severely debilitating consequences due to undetected heart conditions. 
Parent Heart Watch states, “Because most heart conditions that can lead to SCA are not detectable with a stethoscope, a simple, noninvasive, and painless test with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) and echocardiogram, a comprehensive review of personal and family heart history, and the proper assessment and follow-up of warning signs and symptoms are the best tools for primary prevention. Approximately 2% of youth that are heart-screened are diagnosed with a heart abnormality or concern, while 1% are diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition. As children grow, their hearts change and repeat evaluations are recommended through age 25.”
A complete family history and physical examination that includes an electrocardiogram can help detect approximately two-thirds of the heart conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Further screening with an echocardiogram can often detect conditions that an electrocardiogram might not discover.
Here is some information from Parent Heart Watch about these tests:

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

“An ECG is a simple, painless, noninvasive test that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart. With each heartbeat, the heart’s natural pacemaker sends an electrical impulse that travels along a nerve pathway and stimulates the heart muscles to contract, pumping blood through the heart’s chambers and into the blood vessels. When the heart muscles relax, the heart refills with blood and the process starts again. The ECG records this activity on graph paper via wires that are connected to electrode patches with slightly sticky backings and placed on the chest, arms, and legs. The heart’s activity is recorded in up and down patterns labeled consecutively as P waves, QRS complexes, T waves and U waves. Irregularities in the patterns may indicate a problem with the heart.”

Echocardiogram (ECHO)

 “An ECHO uses high frequency sound waves to display the structure, function and blood flow of the heart on a monitor screen without the use of x-ray. A colorless gel is applied to the skin on the area of the chest where the heart is located. A transducer, a small microphone-like device, is placed on top of the gel and moved across the chest to obtain images that the cardiologist wants to see. A computer transfers the information from the transducer to display an image of the heart on the monitor. The echocardiogram can detect structural abnormalities of the heart and show valve shape, motion, narrowing or leaking.”
In order to stop sudden cardiac arrest from taking so many lives, we need to be prepared. Primary prevention can include a thorough screening that includes an electrocardiogram and/or an echocardiogram. Additionally, all schools, businesses, sport venues, and other organizations must be equipped with a complete AED program so when sudden cardiac arrest strikes, they are prepared to help save a life!
To learn more about Defibtech, and to join us on our quest to save lives from sudden cardiac arrest, visit