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The most common cause of SCA is an electrical malfunction in the heart resulting in an abnormal heart rhythm. This abnormal rhythm, called ventricular fibrillation, is an ineffective quivering of the heart muscle that makes it unable to pump blood through the body.
This electrical malfunction is different from a heart attack. A heart attack is a problem with the plumbing of the heart resulting in ineffective blood supply. This causes the pain and symptoms. A severe heart attack can lead to SCA but most of the time they are separate events.
The only definitive treatment for ventricular fibrillation is the administration of an electrical shock by a device called an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
But defibrillation is only effective if it is applied quickly – within three to five minutes. The success of resuscitation drops about 10 percent with each passing minute. After 10 minutes in cardiac arrest, a person’s chance of survival is only about 2 percent.
Automated External Defibrillators are simple, inexpensive, easy to use devices that can only help the victim. They analyze the heart’s rhythm and tell the user to deliver a defibrillation shock only if it is needed. The shock interrupts an abnormal heart rhythm and allows the normal rhythm to regain control.

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