For people at risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), the following treatment options can be used alone or in combination in the long term prevention of SCA.
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
- Catheter ablation
Emergency treatment for SCA
Emergency treatment for SCA is required when:
- A person's heart suddenly stops pumping blood to the body due to ventricular fibrillation
- The person has lost consciousness
Emergency treatment for SCA focuses on keeping the blood flowing through the body. Emergency treatment for an episode of SCA in progress usually consists of two interventions:
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) -- keeps blood flowing through the body. CPR is the mechanical pushing of the heart (hands pushing on rib cage) and breathing (through the mouth) done in a rhythmic pattern. These actions keep blood and oxygen circulating through the body. CPR is often used as a first emergency response until an external defibrillator can be applied to restart the heart.
- External defibrillation -- restarts the electrical system of the heart. External defibrillation is an electric shock given to the heart through paddles placed on the chest.. External defibrillation may be done using a manual external defibrillator or an automatic external defibrillator (AED).
After a person is revived from SCA, treatment continues at hospital. Diagnostic tests may provide details about the medical condition that caused the sudden cardiac arrest. A heart rhythm specialist (cardiologist or electrophysiologist) will use results from diagnostic tests and a person's medical history to determine treatment options.
Guidelines for treatment were recently made available to the medical community by the European Society of Cardiology with recommendations for risk stratification and for the prevention of sudden cardiac death.