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Sudden Cardiac Death

Sudden cardiac death (SCD), also called sudden cardiac arrest, is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs and without treatment, death will occur within minutes. Rapid treatment with a device called an Automated External Defibrillators (AED) can be lifesaving. An AED sends an electric shock to the heart in an effort to restore its normal rhythm.

People with heart disease are at greater risk for SCD but it may occur in people who appear healthy and have no known disease or risk factors. SCD may occur:

  • after a heart attack
  • as a result of an arrhythmia (problem within the heart’s electrical system) that causes the heart to stop pumping blood to the body and SCD.

How does molecular imaging help people at risk for sudden cardiac death?

Images and information provided by myocardial perfusion imaging, a nuclear functional study and other molecular imaging procedures help physicians:

  • assess the potential for sudden cardiac death and other cardiac events in patients who have suffered a heart attack or who have chronic heart failure
  • select patients for automatic internal cardiac defibrillators (AICDs).

To prevent SCD, a device called an automatic internal cardiac defibrillator (AICD) may be surgically placed under the skin in the chest or abdomen. When the AICD detects an irregular arrhythmia, the device uses electric pulses or shocks to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.