Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) happens quickly and it is not a heart attack. It is a problem with the heart's electrical system. Something causes the heart to beat dangerously fast, or to beat with a rhythm that is irregular. When either of these things happen, the heart is not able to pump effectively and it may suddenly stop beating.

Physicians and medical professionals at Spectrum Health's Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center are committed to increasing awareness and prevention of SCA. With as many as 335,000 cases in the U.S. each year, SCA is responsible for more deaths than AIDS, breast cancer and lung cancer combined.

If you are in one of the risk groups, it's critical that you talk with your doctor about preventing SCA. Depending on your medical history, your doctor may recommend a lifesaving implantable device.

Treatments for Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is fatal if not treated within minutes. Any time a person collapses, cardiac arrest is a possibility. Immediately call 911 and check for a pulse. If there is none and you are at a public location, look for a sign that displays "AED" and a heart symbol. This is a portable defibrillator that may save the person's life. Anyone can operate these life-saving devices. Defibrillators shock the heart back into rhythm. Many public places now have prominently displayed portable defibrillators. 

For the fortunate few who survive a sudden cardiac arrest, the Spectrum Health heart specialists are experts in implantable defibrillators and other heart-saving technology. Learn more here.

Cardiac Rhythm Monitoring
With consistent check-ins and some assisted mechanical devices we can keep an eye on your heart rhythm, helping to understand and diagnose certain heart disease.

Implantable Defibrillator
A defibrillator is implanted under the skin near the collarbone. It records the speed and rhythm of your heart, and produces small shocks to correct heartbeat irregularities.

Medication Management
Along with very important lifestyle changes, there are a variety of medicines used to help treat heart conditions. Medicines for heart disease are used to ease discomfort or lessen symptoms, but some can also be essential in preventing life-threatening episodes. It is important to take your medicines exactly as prescribed, and work with your doctor on both lifestyle and medicine changes.

Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator Therapy
This wearable (as opposed to implanted) device combines the steady regulation of a pacemaker with the ability to shock the heart back into rhythm.