SCA is treatable most of the timeespecially when it is due to an electrical abnormality called ventricular fibrillation as long as it is treated quickly. Treatment includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of defibrillators. This treatment must be provided immediately to be effective, ideally within three to five minutes after collapse. Even the fastest emergency medical services may not be able to reach a victim this quickly. That is why prompt action by bystanders is critical and why it is so important that more laypersons learn CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Laypersons should be prepared to recognize the emergency, call for professional help, give CPR and use the nearest AED. If the person is not responsive and not breathing normally, one should suspect SCA and start CPR. This has been called the “No-No-Go” protocol. When a person suffers cardiac arrest, he or she is clinically dead, but life can often be restored with immediate bystander action.
Subsequent care includes administration of medications and other advanced cardiac life support techniques by emergency medical personnel. Patients who have been successfully resuscitated but remain in a coma after cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation (VF) may benefit from mild therapeutic hypothermia (cooling), which can improve the chances of survival with good brain function. SCA survivors should see heart specialists (cardiologists and electrophysiologists) for follow-up care.