WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- About 350,000 U.S. deaths occur each year from sudden cardiac arrest, but most adults don't know what it is and underestimate its risk, a survey says.
A survey sponsored by the Heart Rhythm Society found 75 percent of U.S. adults are not aware an implantable cardioverter defibrillator is an effective treatment option to protect those at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac arrest claims one life every 90 seconds, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer and AIDS combined, the group says. Yet, more than 65 percent of U.S. adults not only underestimate the seriousness of sudden cardiac arrest, but also mistakenly say sudden cardiac arrest is a type of heart attack.
The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest is a heart rhythm disorder -- arrhythmia -- called ventricular fibrillation, an "electrical problem" in the heart that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and without immediate emergency help such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation death can follow within minutes.
Dr. Anne M. Gillis, president of the Heart Rhythm Society, sudden cardiac arrest often occurs in people who appear healthy and at all ages, which can make it difficult to know who is at risk. However, risk factors include:
-- High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, overweight, smoking, poor diet.
-- Clogged arteries or previous heart attack.
-- An abnormal heart rate or rhythm of unknown cause.
-- An unusually rapid heart rate that comes and goes, even when the person is at rest.
-- Fainting for no known reason.
-- A low ejection fraction, a measure of how much blood pumps with each heartbeat.
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