Skip to content

    Heart Disease Health Center

    Select An Article

    Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death

    Font Size

    What Are the Risk Factors of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

    There are many risk factors that can increase a person's risk of sudden cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death, including the following:

    Other risk factors of sudden cardiac arrest include:

    • Ejection fraction -- a measure of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction -- of under 40%, particularly in combination with ventricular tachycardia
    • Prior episode of sudden cardiac arrest
    • Family history of sudden cardiac arrest or SCD
    • Personal or family history of certain abnormal heart rhythms, including long or short QT syndrome, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, extremely low heart rates, or heart block
    • Ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation after a heart attack
    • History of congenital heart defects or blood vessel abnormalities
    • History of syncope (fainting episodes of unknown cause)
    • Heart failure: a condition in which the heart's pumping power is weaker than normal. Patients with heart failure are 6 to 9 times more likely than the general population to experience ventricular arrhythmias that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest
    • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: a thickened heart muscle that especially affects the ventricles
    • Significant changes in blood levels of potassium and magnesium (from using diuretics, for example), even if there is not underlying heart disease
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Recreational drug abuse
    • Taking drugs that are "pro-arrhythmic" may increase the risk for life-threatening arrhythmias

    Can Sudden Cardiac Death Be Prevented?

    If you have any of the risk factors for sudden cardiac death (listed above), it is important that you speak with your doctor about possible steps to reduce your risk.

    Keeping regular follow-up appointments with your doctor, making certain lifestyle changes, taking medications as prescribed, and having interventional procedures or surgery (as recommended) are ways you can reduce your risk.

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    x-ray of human heart
    A visual guide.
    atrial fibrillation
    Symptoms and causes.
    heart rate graph
    10 things to never do.
    heart rate
    Get the facts.
    empty football helmet
    red wine
    eating blueberries
    Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
    Inside A Heart Attack
    Omega 3 Sources
    Salt Shockers
    lowering blood pressure