Sudden Cardiac Arrest


Sudden cardiac arrest happens when your heart abruptly stops beating. When people experience cardiac arrest, their blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs and they lose consciousness. Immediate treatment with a defibrillator – a device that sends an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm – can help. However, the best prevention is to avoid risk factors.

People are more likely to have sudden cardiac arrest as they age, if they abuse drugs or alcohol, if they’ve had a heart attack or if they’ve had heart-related problems such as:


Some people have warning signs up to an hour before sudden cardiac arrest including:

  • A racing heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath


If you have any of these conditions, talk to your doctor. He or she may refer you to an Aurora cardiologist or cardiac electrophysiologist, a specialist in treating the heart’s electrical system. You may undergo diagnostic tests such as:

Services & Treatment

If you survive a sudden cardiac arrest, you’re likely to be admitted to a hospital for testing. Once your doctor finds out what caused it, he or she can help treat the underlying condition. 

If the cardiac arrest was cause by an arrhythmia, your doctor might suggest an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD), a small device placed under your skin near your heart. It senses dangerous abnormal heart beats and delivers an electrical pulse to your heart to stop them.

Your doctor can also discuss ways to increase heart health and lower your risk for cardiac problems.

Why Aurora?

You're at the Heart of Our Care 

Aurora Health Care offers coordinated care for preventing, diagnosing and treating heart and vascular disease. World-renowned heart and vascular specialists diagnose and treat all types of cardiovascular conditions and disorders, using the most advanced state-of-the-art tools and technologies available today. 

We have 15 hospitals and 155 clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois so you can find a location that's closest to you. 

What’s all this mean to you? Convenient, coordinated and expert care. 

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