Do you know that you can save someone’s life in sudden cardiac arrest?

Yes, you can! You only need two hands to save a life.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?

  • the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating and pumping blood effectively
  • it often happens away from a hospital
  • it can happen anywhere, anytime and at any age
  • it usually happens after a heart attack, but also can happen due to an abnormal rhythm of the heart, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, injury, severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), drowning and electrocution

Is it the same as a heart attack?

A lot of people think that a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest is the same. But they are not. Still, a heart attack or a myocardial infarction can very often lead to a sudden cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest - as explained earlier, it is an electrical problem of the heart which can cause the heart to stop suddenly and unexpectedly.

Heart attack - a blood vessel feeding the heart gets blocked and the heart muscle fed by that vessel starts to die. The pain due to a heart attack can be very intense and sudden, although pain may start slowly and continue for hours, days and weeks before a heart attack.

What is the incidence of SCA?

  • It accounts for about 15% of all deaths in the Western world
  • More than 356,000 people suffer sudden out of hospital cardiac arrest in US and nearly 90% of them are fatal
  • More than 356,000 people are affected in Europe
  • We do not have data in Sri Lanka yet
  • Nearly 2000 people die daily in the world due to sudden out of hospital cardiac arrest
  • The chances of surviving are only about one in ten globally

What do you know about your heart?

  • It is the organ which supplies oxygen, glucose and other nutrients to all organs in the body
  • Human body consists of over 200 Trillian cells which work together for our survival
  • The heart is a strong muscular pump
  • It only weighs between 200-425 g and is little larger than your fist
  • It beats about 100,000 times a day and more than 2.5 billion times if you live for about 72 years
  • It pumps about 7,200 liters of blood per day

What happens in SCA?

  • as blood is not pumped the cells start to die
  • brain cells are extremely sensitive to lack of oxygen starts to die after 3 minutes due to lack of oxygen
  • an ambulance takes at least 10 minutes to arrive
  • chances of survival drop by 7-10% each minute

This means you have no chance of surviving if your heart suddenly stops, unless someone nearby offers help.


What is Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)?

  • is a vital emergency intervention to save a victim of sudden out of hospital cardiac arrest that has to be done by a person nearby (bystander)
  • comprises of a few simple steps that can help save a person’s life