New research suggests "sudden" cardiac arrest might not be so sudden after all; and could even be predicted a month in advance.
Researchers determined more than half of middle-aged men who participated in an Oregon study showed warning signs of cardiac arrest up to a month before the actual medical event, an American Heart Association news release reported.
Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops "due to a failure in the electrical system. Patients can survive cardiac arrest, but immediate care with CPR and a defibrillator is essential. There are about 360,000 cases of cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year, only about 9.5 percent of people that go into arrest outside of a hospital survive.
"By the time rescuers get there, it's much too late," Eloi Marijon, M.D., study lead author and a visiting scientist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, said.
Researchers looked at medical records of 567 men who experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. They found that 53 percent of these study subjects experienced symptoms. Out of that number 56 percent experienced chest pain; 13 percent had shortness of breath; and four experienced "dizziness, fainting or palpitations."
Eighty percent of the symptoms occurred within four weeks of cardiac arrest. Most of the men that experienced cardiac arrest had coronary artery disease, but many had not been tested.
"The lesson is, if you have these kinds of symptoms, please don't blow them off," Sumeet Chugh, M.D., senior author and associate director for genomic cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said."Go see your healthcare provider. Don't waste time."
The researchers hope to conduct a similar study on women.