As February marks Black History and Heart Health month, it is time to start the conversation around Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). SCA is the leading cause of death in the United States. Compared to other racial groups, African-American men and women are at the highest risk of SCA.
SCA is very different from a heart attack. While a heart attack is caused by a clogged vessel that prevents blood flow to sections of the heart, SCA occurs when there is a malfunction in the in the electrical signal that regulates the heartbeat. Approximately 95 percent of SCA cases result in death.
Please consider the following advice for both your health and your families:
- Know Your Family Heart History. The more you know about your family history, the more information you can provide your doctor to help assess your risk for SCA.
- Be on the lookout. If you experience blackouts and/or fainting you may be at risk for SCA. Consult your doctor and be sure to document all incidents to ensure you have the information to best allow your doctor to assess your risk.
- Listen to your body and take action. The a recent Heart Rhythm Society survey found that more than 60 percent of African Americans with no self-reported prior heart disease who experienced heart disease symptoms did not visit the doctor as a result. Take a personal SCA risk assessment at arresttherisk.org/assessment.
SCA claims more lives every year than breast cancer, prostate cancer and AIDS combined—it is a matter of life or death that deserves a conversation with your doctor. Learn more about how you can “Arrest the Risk” and help start the SCA conversation today.
Dr. Rollington Ferguson is a cardiologist at Heart Medical Chest Pain Clinic in Oakland, and a member of the Association of Black Cardiologist and Sinkler-Miller Medical Association.
For SCA information: www.ArrestTheRisk.org