In a study of middle-age men in Portland, Oregon, more than half had warning signs up to a month before their hearts stopped suddenly, researchers found. (Agencies)
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops due to a failure in its electrical system. Patients can sometimes survive if they receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately and a defibrillator is used quickly to shock the heart into a normal rhythm.
The new research is part of the 11-year-old Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study, which involves 1 million people in the Portland metro area.
Researchers gathered information about the symptoms and health history of men 35 to 65 years old who had out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in 2002-12.
Among 567 men who had out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 53 percent had symptoms prior to the cardiac arrest. Of those with symptoms, 56 per cent had chest pain, 13 percent had shortness of breath and 4 per cent had dizziness, fainting or palpitations.
Almost 80 percent of the symptoms occurred between four weeks and one hour before the sudden cardiac arrest. Most men had coronary artery disease, but only about half had been tested for it before their cardiac arrest.
"The lesson is, if you have these kinds of symptoms, please don't blow them off," said Sumeet Chugh, senior author and associate director for genomic cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.
Co-authors of the study include Kyndaron Reinier, Audrey Evanado, Carmen Teodorescu, Kumar Narayanan, Adriana Huertas Vazquez, Harpriya Chugh, Katherine Jerger, Ronald Mariani, Eric Stecker, Karen Gunson and Jonathan Jui.
The research was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013 in Dallas.
In a study of middle-age men in Portland, Oregon, more than half had warning signs up to a month before their hearts stopped suddenly, researchers found.