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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Truth About Black Folks and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

African American having a cardiac arrest

A new study shows that African Americans are twice as likely than whites to experience sudden cardiac arrest. Also, blacks are more likely to have sudden cardiac arrest at an earlier age. But what is sudden cardiac arrest? Is it the same as a heart attack?

The difference between sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack

Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. They are two separate medical conditions. A heart attack is the result of a blocked artery that prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. If the artery is not opened, a heart attack can kill arteries in the heart and can lead to death. Sudden cardiac arrest, on the other hand, is when the heart suddenly stops beating, leading to sudden death. It is caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart that creates an irregular heartbeat. Death can occur quickly.

Why blacks are at higher risk

According to one researcher who was part of the study, Dr. Sumeet Chugh, associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, the reasons for the higher risk among blacks "might be genetics, cultural differences in lifestyle or other factors." These other factors include "Inadequate health coverage." In addition, Chugh stated that “Blacks, in addition to being younger, tended to have more diabetes, more high blood pressure and more kidney problems, or chronic renal disease.”

Devastating results

The chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest is only about 10 percent, at best. Unlike a heart attack, it comes on suddenly and death is usually instantaneous. There are just not a lot of options once sudden cardiac arrest occurs. It points out the need for more study in order to decrease risk factors among African Americans.

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