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Join Atrium Health Navicent in Recognizing Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

Knowing what to do in an emergency can help save lives

Atrium Health Navicent invites the community to learn more about sudden cardiac arrests this month, and the broad impact they have across our community. A sudden cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops beating due to a problem with the heart’s electrical system. It happens without warning. Someone may seem fine one minute and collapse the next.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), sudden cardiac arrests affect about 1,000 people each day. There are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the U.S. and nearly 90 percent of them are fatal. Without quick action to revive the heart, a person can die in minutes. It is estimated that sudden cardiac arrests claim one life every 90 seconds in the U.S.

Usually, the first sign is someone fainting, collapsing or seeming to be lifeless. Recent studies of survivors have found that in some cases individuals remember that something didn’t feel quite right beforehand. They recalled dizziness, unexplained shortness of breath, chest pains, seizures or nausea an hour before a sudden cardiac arrest occurred.

In 2020, sudden cardiac arrests in adults most often occurred in a home with the next most events occurring in public settings and nursing homes, according to data from Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES).

If you suspect someone is experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest, it’s critical to call 911 right away and that bystanders trained in CPR begin CPR while waiting for emergency help to arrive. An automated external defibrillator (AED), often found in emergency vehicles and public places, can also be used. AEDs are programmed with simple instructions and can be used to identify an electrical problem and shock the heart.

“Even if you’re not at an increased risk, it’s important that everyone become trained in CPR and be familiar with how to use an AED. Beginning compressions while waiting for emergency help, or using an AED could save a stranger’s life, but it could also be the life of a loved one,” said Dr. Felix O. Sogade, Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center’s AFIB medical director. “While the heart health tracking tools equipped in many smart watches don’t replace medical testing, they are great for monitoring your heart rate and rhythm, and helping track trends. If you notice a change in your heart health while using these tools, contact a physician for an exam.”

Sudden cardiac arrests can affect anyone at any age, but the risk is greater among certain people. Risk factors increase for those who’ve already experienced a sudden cardiac arrest or if a close family member has had one. Men and AfricanAmericans also are at greater risk.

Other risk factors include:

• Coronary artery disease, which is the most common type of heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in Georgia, and resulted in 21,116 deaths in 2020. In Bibb County, there were 276.2 deaths per 100,000 people between 2016 and 2018. Conduct a self-evaluation for heart disease using My Life Check at http://mylifecheck.heart.org.

• Structural changes in the heart, for example, a thickened heart muscle or enlarged heart

• Heart failure with reduced pumping function, often referred to as a low ejection fraction

• Heart attack. About 77 percent of people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest were found to have had a heart attack, many of which went undiagnosed. Survivors of heart attack are 4 to 6 times more likely to have sudden cardiac arrest than the general population.

• Physical stress such as trauma, blood loss, dehydration/electrolyte imbalance or, in rare cases, very intense physical activity.

• Heart problems you are born with make you more prone to heart rhythm problems. For sudden cardiac arrest survivors and individuals worried about risk factors, there’s skilled care close to home at Atrium Health Navicent Heart & Vascular Care.

Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center is a national leader in state-of-the-art cardiovascular care, and a recipient of a triple crown of heart care accreditations from the American College of Cardiology including the Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation, Heart Failure Accreditation and Atrial Fibrillation with EPS Accreditation. A full range of procedures and tests are available, including those indicated for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Board-certified cardiologists are committed to providing the best possible care, and treatment plans are patient-centered, allowing the patient to be at the epicenter of their treatment decisions.

Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin, a 140-bed acute care facility located at 821 North Cobb Street in Milledgeville, has been designated as a Level III Emergency Cardiac Care Center and a Remote Treatment Stroke Center. To find a doctor, visit www.NavicentHealth.org and click “Find A Doctor.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.