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Evaluation of the survivor of sudden cardiac arrest

Philip J Podrid, MD, FACC
Section Editors
Brian Olshansky, MD
Scott Manaker, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Brian C Downey, MD, FACC


Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and sudden cardiac death (SCD) refer to the sudden cessation of cardiac activity with hemodynamic collapse, typically due to sustained ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation. These events mostly occur in patients with structural heart disease (that may not have been previously diagnosed), particularly coronary heart disease. (See "Pathophysiology and etiology of sudden cardiac arrest".)

The event is referred to as SCA (or aborted SCD) if an intervention (eg, defibrillation) or spontaneous reversion restores circulation. The event is called SCD if the patient dies. However, the use of SCD to describe both fatal and nonfatal cardiac arrest persists by convention. (See "Overview of sudden cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death", section on 'Definitions'.)

Evaluation of the survivor of SCD includes the following:

Identification and treatment of acute reversible causes

Evaluation for structural heart disease

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 15, 2017.
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