• When SCA occurs, the heart stops abruptly and without warning.
  • SCA is often caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the
    heart known as ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation
    (VF), abnormalities of the heart’s electrical conduction system.
  • During SCA, the heart fails to pump blood to the vital organs.
  • SCA signs include unconsciousness and no breathing.
  • For every minute that elapses after SCA, the chances of survival diminish 10 percent.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a public health crisis, striking an estimated 295,000 Americans each year. (Circulation,2010; 121:e46)

  • Nationally, 92% of those who suffer SCA die before reaching the
    hospital — a rate that hasn’t changed significantly over several
  • SCA kills six times more Americans each year than breast cancer. And more than AIDS, lung, breast and prostate cancer combined.
  • Your chances of survival fluctuate by as much as 500 percent, depending on where you live in the country. (JAMA,2008;300:1423)

SCA is a treatable disease. Improving survival rates requires measurement and a coordinated community response.

  • No single national data collection
    standard currently exists to capture incidence and outcomes. Only
    through measurement can we make informed decisions and replicate best
  • Improved survival rates require a
    collective community response by the general public, first responders,
    EMS services and in-hospital caregivers.
  • Success begins with public bystanders. Communities with higher bystander CPR participation have higher SCA survival rates.
    • Eighty percent of SCA events occur in the home.
    • Everyone should recognize and know how to call 911, start chest compressions and how to find and use an AED.
  1. Nichol G, Thomas E, Callaway CW, et al. Regional variation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest incidence and outcome. JAMA.2008;300(12):1423–31.
  2. Sasson C. Predictors of survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes.2010;3(1):63-81.
  3. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2010 Update. American Heart Association Web site.Accessed October 15, 2010.
  4. Jemal A, Siegel R, Xu J, et al. Cancer statistics, 2010. CA Cancer J Clin.2010 Jul 7. [Epub ahead of print]
  5. Centers for Disease Control. HIV prevalence estimates—United States, 2006. MMWR. 57(39), 3 October 2008.
  6. Harris Interactive Survey conducted on behalf of the American Heart Association, Jan. 8, 2008 through Jan. 21, 2008.