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How can one prevent sudden cardiac arrests?

Q: I am currently studying towards a PHD in Physics at the University of Florida, US. Just 10 days ago, a very dear friend of mine passed away due to a sudden cardiac arrest. He was 29 years old and hale and hearty (or so we believed) until the minute he died. He exercised regularly and he never smoked or consumed alcohol. I am not sure if any of his family members have a history of heart ailment. My husband who is 28 years old, on the other hand smokes, and has a desk job and does not exercise and also my father-in-law does suffer from a heart ailment, in fact he had a heart attack once before he was 30 which he survived miraculously. I am hence worried for my husband and would like to know what we can do to prevent what happened to my friend. I am also enrolling myself in CPR classes here. I understand that administering CPR to such victims in the first few minutes could save their lives. It would be of immense help to me if I could get a professional opinion about Sudden Cardiac Deaths.

A:Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is an unexpected death due to cardiac causes occurring in a short time period (generally within 1 h of symptom onset) in a person with known or unknown cardiac disease in whom no previously diagnosed fatal condition is apparent. Most cases of SCD are related to cardiac arrhythmias i.e. irregular heart beat. A prior history of left ventricular impairment (ejection fraction <30-35%) is the single-greatest risk factor for sudden death. Risk factors include a family history of premature coronary artery disease (CAD), smoking, dyslipidemia (raised lipid levels in blood), hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Prognosis of morbidity and mortality for people who have had SCD can be made using the cardiac arrest score developed by McCullough and Thompson. The preventive measures are those for CAD. Risk factors for CAD are classified as modifiable or unmodifiable. Modifiable risk factors include smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, hypertension, hyperlipidemia; high cholesterol (total, LDL-cholesterol [LDL-C]), low high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and high triglyceride levels; diabetes; abdominal obesity; sedentary lifestyle; high homocysteine levels; and high C-reactive protein levels. Unmodifiable risk factors include age, male sex, and family history. Ask him to get a regular cardiac check-up done and follow a healthy life-style. And please do not be so apprehensive.

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