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Conditions We Treat: Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when a person dies suddenly from a cardiac cause. If the person cannot be revived, it is known as sudden cardiac death. The most common cause of cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation, which is an extremely rapid and irregular cardiac arrhythmia. During ventricular fibrillation, the heart beats so rapidly that no blood is pumped to the body; the brain and other organs cease to function within minutes.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know

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  • Sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack. A heart attack means that an artery of the heart is blocked, preventing blood from feeding the heart muscle. This kills the affected muscle. But patients who have a heart attack may also experience cardiac arrest.
  • If someone goes into cardiac arrest, call 911, administer CPR and use an automatic external defibrillator (AED), increasingly available in many work and public spaces.
  • Patients who survive cardiac arrest need a full cardiac evaluation to determine the precise cause.
  • When arrhythmia is the cause, an implantable defibrillator can be inserted to prevent this problem from happening again.

If you have a condition that increases your risk of cardiac arrest, you should be evaluated by an electrophysiologist, a cardiologist who specializes in cardiac arrhythmias.

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Why choose Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute for sudden cardiac arrest?

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Our Specialty Centers

After cardiac arrest, your heart needs to recover. Our Clinical Exercise Physiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation Center offers comprehensive programs to help you with a medically supervised, goal-oriented exercise program.

Watch a video about cardiac rehab.