Tag Archives: sudden death


Cardiac arrest

Are there warning signs before the heart stops?

A study reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions this month showed sudden death isn’t so sudden after all. Fifty-six percent of the men in an Oregon study had chest pain and didn’t report it. Others had: dizziness, fainting, palpitations and shortness of breath. These may be unrecognized heart symptoms in women, too.

Nearly 400,000 people have cardiac arrests each year and 88% of the events occur at home. Unless medics are called and CPR is started immediately survival is low. Fewer than 10% of those suffering a cardiac arrest survive.

 What can you do?

Learn the symptoms and seek attention before a heart attack or cardiac arrest occurs.

Chest pain is not always the first symptom of coronary artery blockage. More than 50% of people having heart attacks die before reaching the hospital. To improve your chances for survival, pay attention to possible symptoms of reduced heart blood flow. These vary and in women are often subtle.

            Possible heart symptoms: May be mildchest-pain

            ♥ Indigestion, nausea

            ♥ Upper back or abdominal discomfort

            ♥ Aching in neck, jaw, or either arm

            ♥ Short of breath or weak with activity

            ♥ Weakness with mild activity

            ♥ Chest discomfort or pressure

What causes the heart to stop?

Heart disease develops over a lifetime. The slow narrowing within heart arteries is silent — no symptoms. When the blood flow is decreased to the point when symptoms are recognized, the actual blood flow may be restricted by more than 90%. When increased oxygen is needed such as with exercise or stress, the heart beats faster but cannot supply enough blood and the heart muscle suffers. Sometimes sudden death is caused by abnormal fatal rhythms generated by the irritable oxygen-starved conduction system. In a heart attack, the vessel has closed, stopping all blood flow to a portion of the muscle and the heart stops beating.

What are common factors increasing risk for heart disease and sudden death?

Untreated High Blood pressure

Smoking: All tobacco use & second hand smokecigarette smoking quitting

Obesity and high fat diet


High LDL cholesterol

Low HDL cholesterol


Illicit drug use

Excess alcohol



Hands-Only® CPR instructional video recommended for adults since 2008


The American Heart Association is a terrific source for up-to-date information for heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults and most people don’t know they have it. More than 60% of women who died suddenly had not complained of heart symptoms. This is true for many sudden death male victims, too. The problem is so common, you are likely to be nearby when someone collapses. Do you know what to do?Chest Compression

An instruction video produced by the AHA will only take a couple minutes to watch. I encourage you to do it. You may save a life.   http://tinyurl.com/oneminuteCPR

If you have trouble with the link. Go directly to the AHA.

Dr. Betty

YOUR HEART: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

ArteryFor many people heart disease is a frightening prospect. The heart is the only muscle that never rests. If we break a bone, we immobilize it until it heals. If we sustain injuries, limiting activity to allow healing is a proper action. But when the heart is injured by lack of blood flow and oxygen the muscle cannot rest. As cells die and are replaced by scar tissue, the muscle must continuously pump blood and nutrients to vital organs. Yes, you can limit activity to reduce stress and reduce the work load, but if the heart stops, for that person, their world ends.

Sudden death occurs when – the heart stops without warning. About 50% of men and 66% of women who suffer a sudden death do not know they have heart disease placing them at risk. Sometimes the heart arteries are more than 90% blocked, yet the person has no recognized symptoms.

Many extensive medical research studies have clarified the risks for developing coronary artery disease. We know how to reduce those risks and what actions we can take to reduce the narrowing within the arteries that impedes blood flow. YOUR HEART is a guide to help you wade through the medical terminology, evaluations and treatments for heart problems, in particular, coronary artery disease. These are the arteries that run on the surface of the heart supplying the heart muscle. When they are blocked by waxy cholesterol lumps called plaques a heart attack occurs. Some women and men may have additional damage to smaller heart vessels and require special tests to identify and diagnose the problem called microvascular disease.

A goal with my new book is to help people understand how to recognize symptoms and combat artery disease before a crisis occurs. Working in Emergency Departments for so many years brought me in contact with many unfortunate people who could have taken action had they known what to do. Heart disease runs in families. Knowing your family history is just one piece of information that helps to sort out personal risks because many disease processes are inherited. If you learn the heart risks, you have an opportunity to make lifestyle changes to prevent and treat the disease early allowing you to live healthier.

Many people survive a heart attack; many do not. They don’t get a second chance. In fact, 50% of heart attack victims die before reaching medical help.

YOUR HEART provides useful basic anatomy and disease pathology information along with actions for people to take to take control and make a personal difference in their health and the health of their families. If weight reduction is part of your health needs, eating and exercise suggestions are included along with an innovative, healthy and effective way to lose weight.

The book is available as an Kindle e-book on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/yourheartbook

Publication date in paperback is just a few days away. I will let you know when it is available.

The book is for all ages: women, men and kids. Five-year-old children who are overweight show signs of early heart disease. So, this information could save your life and the lives of those you love.

Betty Kuffel, MD