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What Seniors Should Know For Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month | Generations Home Care
An EKG machine used to monitor the heart's electrical energy and prevent sudden cardiac arrest

Most seniors are well aware of the dangers that heart problems pose. After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, amounting to 659,000 deaths each year. But when it comes to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), the facts are not as commonly known. Despite the lack of general knowledge, SCA is responsible for half the deaths attributed to heart disease. Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month seeks to spread more information about this serious heart condition. While SCA affects people across all ages, genders, and ethnicities, isolated seniors are especially vulnerable to the most severe consequences of cardiac arrest. With education and awareness, we can all protect ourselves against the dangers of SCA. 

What To Know About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

If you haven’t heard much about SCA, there are a few essential things you should know. Understanding what causes SCA, what the symptoms are, and how to properly treat it are crucial if it happens to someone near you. With the right precautions, the dangers associated with SCA can be dramatically reduced.

What Causes SCA?

While many people might not understand the difference between SCA and a heart attack, recognizing SCA in the moment can be life-saving. While a blockage in a coronary artery commonly causes a heart attack, SCA results from a disruption in the heart’s electrical function. The heart uses electricity to keep its rhythm, and when that rhythm becomes disrupted, the effects are catastrophic. Because SCA is a result of an electrical issue, it can only be corrected using a shock from an AED. 

Who Is At Risk of SCA?

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, regardless of age or prior symptoms of heart disease. It’s twice as common in men as women and often appears in people between the ages of 30 and 40. It has occurred in young children, though such incidences are thankfully much rarer. Risk factors for SCA include a previous heart attack, coronary artery disease, a family history of SCD or other heart issues, and diabetes

What Are The Symptoms of SCA?

The symptoms of SCA come on fast. A person’s heart rate might start to feel irregular, fluttery, and unusually rapid. Soon after symptoms begin, dizziness and fainting are also common. However, in over half of all cases, SCA begins without any previous symptoms at all.

How Can SCA Be Treated? 

Immediate CPR and early AED use are critical in preventing brain damage or death as a result of SCA. CPR helps keep blood flowing to the brain and vital organs during cardiac arrest. However, the best way to treat a sudden cardiac arrest is through using an AED. Only by resetting the heart’s electrical rhythm can a patient be stabilized during SCA. After defibrillation, most patients will still require hospital treatment to prevent further cardiac problems.

SCA Is A Risk To Isolated Seniors

SCA can easily become deadly. When dealing with an SCA incident, time is of crucial importance. Once the heart stops effectively pumping blood to a person’s vital organs, brain damage begins to occur after four to six minutes without oxygen. After ten minutes, brain death will likely set in. These numbers are frightening, but also emphasize the importance of a speedy response to an SCA incident. 

For seniors living alone, however, the outlook of SCA can be grim. When SCA begins with no one on hand to help, it’s doubtful that a person will survive. The risk factors for SCA often put seniors at greater risk as well. A history of heart attack or heart disease raises the risk of SCA, and nearly 70 percent of seniors are in that risk group. Over the age of 80, that number goes up to 85 percent

With higher risk factors for experiencing SCA and a greater likelihood of death as a result, seniors need to remain educated and vigilant. However, one of the best preventative measures against sudden cardiac death is to have another person who can monitor your health and apply CPR when necessary. An in-home caregiver can be the answer. 

Caregivers Are There When You Need It Most

Treatment in the first minutes after SCA begins can ensure survival up to 90 percent. With a caregiver on hand to take note of alarming symptoms and call for help immediately, the chances of surviving SCA are far higher. Considering the numerous health concerns that many seniors have to worry about, having a caregiver in the home can help assuage concerns about living alone. Heart conditions, falls, and strokes are all serious dangers to isolated seniors, but an in-home caregiver makes sure you’re never cut off from help. 

Aside from providing crucial monitoring for serious health events, caregivers also provide several quality-of-life improvements for seniors living at home. Help with daily chores, hygiene, and transportation are all ways a caregiver can chip in. There’s no reason that health concerns or the exhausting grind of daily tasks has to slow seniors down. An in-home caregiver can free up your time and mental energy to live life to the fullest. 

About Generations Home Care

Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.

Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.

Our Specialty Services Include:

  • Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
  • Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
  • Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
  • Veteran’s connection to care program.
  • Live-in services and couples care.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.

About the author - Josh Friesen

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