Sudden cardiac arrest survivors to gather at SCAA Annual Meeting

A nationwide gathering of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) survivors, emergency responders and civilian rescuers will mark SCA Awareness Month with a "Survivors & Heroes Celebration" on Friday, October 8 at 6:00 p.m. at the Marriott City Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the event is part of three-day program that will make up the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association's (SCAA) Annual Meeting.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a sudden, abrupt loss of heart function and can impact individuals at any age and even those who otherwise appear healthy. SCA kills nearly 300,000 Americans each year – more than lung cancer, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined – and has a survival rate of less than 8 percent. Of the small number who survives SCA, nearly all do so because they received immediate assistance in the form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the shock of an automated external defibrillator (AED) or an implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to restore the heart's natural rhythm.  

Local SCA survivors Jay Feuer and Mike Epitropoulos will be joined by over 20 survivors from across the country all celebrating their "re-birthdays." The ceremony also honors the lifesaving efforts of emergency responders and civilian rescuers and features a memorial color-guard presentation and speech by Pennsylvania EMS Director Joe Schmider.

"I've been certified in CPR since the late '70s, but for the most part didn't have any personal experience with it. Now, it's important for me to let others know that CPR and AEDs really do work, that they truly save lives and that anyone can save somebody's life," said Jay Feuer, a dentist who experienced SCA in June while at the gym. Fortunately, a nearby nurse came to his aid, as did an off-duty paramedic who administered shocks from an AED.

The electrical disruption of SCA is different from a heart attack which is caused by a blocked blood vessel leading to loss of blood supply to a portion of the heart muscle. It most often occurs without warning. More than one million Americans identified as "at-risk" are protected from SCA by a stopwatch-sized ICD that delivers a life-saving shock. Unfortunately, the condition remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. because of undiagnosed or untreated heart disease and other conditions.

"We are hosting this event to celebrate those who have survived SCA and raise awareness about SCA during SCA Awareness Month," said Robert Schriever, Chairman of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association. "Many people confuse SCA with a heart attack, and we want to educate the general public about SCA risk factors and responses so that they can help someone experiencing cardiac arrest. Education isn't enough, however, and it's just as important that we acknowledge the often thankless efforts of our emergency responders who come to the aid of strangers in a time of most need."

SOURCE Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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