Many Ignore Warning Symptoms Before Sudden Cardiac Arrest

HealthDay News — Patients with sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) frequently have warning symptoms, usually chest pain and dyspnea, in the month prior to the event, according to a study published online Dec. 22 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Eloi Marijon, MD, PhD, from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues examined characteristics of symptoms in the four weeks before SCA in a prospective population-based study. Participants included 839 residents in Northwestern United States, aged 35–65 years, with SCA (2002–2012).

The researchers found that 51% of patients had warning symptoms (50% of men vs. 53% of women; P=0.59); these were primarily chest pain and dyspnea. Symptoms recurred within the 24 hours before SCA in 93% of symptomatic patients. Nineteen percent of patients called emergency medical services to report symptoms before SCA; the likelihood was higher for patients with a history of heart disease or continuous chest pain (both P<0.001). Survival was 32.1 and 6.0% for those who called 911 in response to symptoms vs. those who did not call (P<0.001).

“Warning symptoms frequently occur before SCA, but most are ignored,” the authors write. “Emergent medical care was associated with survival in patients with symptoms, so new approaches are needed for short-term prevention of SCA.”

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