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Sudden Cardiac Arrest (cont.)

Who Is At Risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs most often in people in their mid-thirties to mid-forties. It appears to affect men twice as often as women.

Sudden cardiac arrest rarely occurs in children unless they have inherited problems that make them likely to have sudden cardiac arrest. Only a very small number of children have sudden cardiac arrest each year.

Major Risk Factors

The major risk factor for sudden cardiac arrest is undiagnosed coronary artery disease (CAD). Most people who have sudden cardiac arrest are later found to have some degree of CAD. Most of these people don't know that they have CAD until sudden cardiac arrest occurs.

Their CAD is "silent"—that is, it has no signs or symptoms. Because of this, doctors and nurses have not detected it. Most cases of sudden cardiac arrest happen in people who have silent CAD and who have no known heart disease prior to sudden cardiac arrest.

Many people who have sudden cardiac arrest also have a silent, or undiagnosed, heart attack before sudden cardiac arrest happens. These people have no obvious signs of heart attack, and they don't even realize that they've had one. The chances for having sudden cardiac arrest are higher during the first 6 months after a heart attack.

Other Risk Factors

Other risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest include:

  • A personal or family history of sudden cardiac arrest or of inherited disorders that make you prone to arrhythmias
  • A history of having arrhythmias
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Drug abuse or excessive alcohol intake

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