Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops functioning. With no effective heartbeat, the brain and other vital organs are deprived of blood, leading to death within minutes.

People who suffer cardiac arrest lose consciousness and stop breathing. They have no pulse or blood pressure.

Cardiac arrest is not a heart attack. The heart usually continues beating during a heart attack. But cardiac arrest may occur as a result of a heart attack.

An estimated 250,000 to 450,000 Americans suffer cardiac arrest each year. Many die, often before receiving advanced medical attention.

The most common cause of cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation, a dangerous type of ventricular arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm.

Several factors can increase the risk for developing heart rhythm problems that can trigger cardiac arrest. These factors include:

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute is proud to offer the world's first commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD) for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. This device is an implanted defibrillator with no heart-implanted wire electrodes. An Inova patient was the first to receive the device in the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC, metro area. Learn more about the subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD Sysem) from Boston Scientific.