• A family history of cardiac arrest or heart disease
What to Do
With quick action, you can survive sudden cardiac arrest. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) needs to begin immediately, and treatment with an automated external defibrillator (AED) within a few minutes. “Every second counts,” says Gregg Fonarow, MD, cardiology professor at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine
• Discomfort in one or both arms, or in the back, neck, or jaw
• Unexplained shortness of breath
If someone you are with shows signs of a sudden cardiac arrest, call 911 or ask someone else to call. Be calm, and check to see if the person is able to respond to you. Start doing CPR right away if he is unconscious and is not breathing. CPR will keep the blood circulating to the brain and other organs. You can stop if he begins breathing, or when emergency medical services arrive and take over.
While you're doing CPR, get someone else to look for an automated external defibrillator (AED) and use it immediately. An AED is a portable device that sends an electric shock through the chest to the heart when needed. The shock can restore a normal rhythm to the heart. There are AEDs in many public places, like shopping malls, airports, hotels, and schools.
If You're at Risk
Talk with your doctor.
There are steps you can take to lower your risk. Your doctor may recommend medication, surgery, or other treatments or lifestyle changes. Someone in your household should be trained in CPR and in the use of an AED.