Sudden Cardiac Arrest - Who Is at Risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest? - Risk Factors

The risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) increases:

  • With age
  • If you are a man. Men are more likely than women to have SCA.
  • Some studies show that blacks—particularly those with underlying conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease or certain cardiac findings on tests such as an electrocardiogram—have a higher risk for SCA.

Major Risk Factor

The major risk factor for SCA is ischemic heart disease. Most people who have SCA have some degree of ischemic heart disease; however, many people may not know that they have heart disease until SCA occurs. Usually their heart disease is “silent”—that is, it has no signs or symptoms. Because of this, doctors and nurses have not detected it.

Many people who have SCA also have silent, or undiagnosed, heart attacks before sudden cardiac arrest happens. These people have no clear signs of heart attack, and they don’t even realize that they’ve had one. Read more about risk factors for ischemic heart disease.

Other Risk Factors

Other risk factors for SCA include:

  • A personal history of arrhythmias
  • A personal or family history of SCA or inherited disorders that make you prone to arrhythmias
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure