Skip to main content

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Causes and Risk Factors for Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden Cardiac Arrest can strike persons of any age, gender, race, and even those who seem to be in good health. World-class professional athletes at the peak of fitness have been known to die suddenly during sporting events. This is often the result of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.¹

Sudden Cardiac Arrest can strike even those who seem to be in good health.

Most cases of Sudden Cardiac Arrest are caused by a type of irregular heartbeat (or arrhythmia) known as ventricular fibrillation. Ventricles are the lower chambers of your heart. During ventricular fibrillation, these chambers beat very fast and irregularly. This causes little or no blood to be pumped through the body. If not treated within a few minutes, death can occur.²

Other causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest can be the result of problems with the heart’s electrical system. If the heart’s electrical signals become slow or stop, or if the heart muscle doesn’t respond to these electrical signals, Sudden Cardiac Arrest can occur.²

Common Risk Factors of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Most heart and blood vessel diseases can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. In the same way, many heart disease risk factors are also risk factors for Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Common risk factors include:

  • A family history of coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Age

There's no sure way to know your risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, so reducing your overall risk is the best strategy. Talk to your doctor about your specific health situation.


1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest? Available at: Accessed June 7, 2014.
2. American Heart Association. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2010 Update. Circulation. 2013;127:e6-e245.

The law restricts these devices to sale by or on the order of a physician. Indications, contraindications, warnings and instructions for use can be found in the product labelling supplied with each device. Information for the use only in countries with applicable health authority product registrations.Content of this website is for Information Purposes only and not meant for product promotion or medical diagnostic. This information does not constitute medical or legal advice, and Boston Scientific makes no representation or warranty regarding this information or its completeness, accuracy or timeliness.
Accordingly, Boston Scientific strongly recommends that you consult with your physician on all matters pertaining to your health or to address any questions.