Jefferson University Hospitals

Sudden Cardiac Death

Sudden cardiac death (also known as sudden arrest), which is different from a heart attack, is an unexpected death resulting from an abrupt loss of heart function often caused by a dangerous heart beat irregularity, either too fast or too slow.

Most of the time, heart disease is present in those that suffer sudden cardiac death. It can occur in people who are very young as well as those more traditionally associated with heart disease. However, it mostly happens in people who appear healthy and have no known heart disease or other risk factors.

You may have heard of sudden cardiac death in young athletes who collapse during a practice or game. An Electrocardiogram (ECG), a noninvasive test, is a screening method that may detect heart conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

If you or someone you are with suddenly collapses, loses consciousness and stops breathing, it is critical to begin resuscitative efforts immediately, including CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED). Jefferson provides a Level 1 Trauma Resource and an accredited Chest Pain Center at its Emergency Department to provide the immediate, critical care that is required once the heart has been resuscitated.

Named a Top Hospital for Heart by Philadelphia magazine, our cardiologists will help you understand your risks and prescribe the appropriate diagnostic tests and treatments.