Report: 10 measures could prevent sudden cardiac death

By American Heart Association News


Ten strategies could help doctors, patients and families prevent sudden cardiac death, according to a new report.

The findings from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

More than 350,000 Americans each year have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, where the heart stops beating, and only 12 percent survive, according to the AHA.

Experts say that many of those deaths could be prevented if doctors and others implemented 10 evidence-based recommendations:

  • Smoking cessation intervention
  • Screening for family history of sudden cardiac death
  • Screening those with a strong family history of cardiomyopathy and sudden cardiac death for asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction, a type of heart failure that makes breathing difficult
  • Referring family members of patients who are hospitalized with known heart conditions that increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest for education about CPR and automated external defibrillator use
  • Using implantable cardioverter defibrillators in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction, where the heart isn't adequately pumping blood, who are predicted to survive more than one year
  • Following guideline-directed medical therapy for prevention of sudden cardiac death in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction
  • Using guideline-directed medical therapy to prevent sudden cardiac death in patients with heart attack and reduced ejection fraction
  • Documenting the absence of reversible causes of ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest and/or sustained ventricular tachycardia before a secondary prevention ICD is placed
  • Counseling eligible patients about ICD use
  • Counseling first-degree relatives of survivors of sudden cardiac arrest associated with an inheritable condition about the need for screening

“This is the first comprehensive measure set in the area of sudden cardiac death prevention,” said Sana Al-Khatib, M.D., co-chair of the writing committee and professor of medicine at Duke University. “Our vision is that these measures will be developed, tested and implemented in clinical practice and that implementation will improve patient care and outcomes.”

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