By LAURAN NEERGAARD Dec. 21, 2015
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sudden cardiac arrest may not always be so sudden: New research suggests a lot of people may ignore potentially life-saving warning signs hours, days, even a few weeks before they collapse.
Cardiac arrest claims about 350,000 U.S. lives a year. It’s not a heart attack, but worse: The heart abruptly stops beating, its electrical activity knocked out of rhythm. CPR can buy critical time, but so few patients survive that it’s been hard to tell if the longtime medical belief is correct that it’s a strike with little or no advance warning.
An unusual study that has closely tracked sudden cardiac arrest in Portland, Oregon, for over a decade got around that roadblock, using interviews with witnesses, family and friends after patients collapse and tracking down their medical records.