What takes more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer or AIDS? The answer? Sudden cardiac arrest

If you thought sudden cardiac arrest was a type of heart attack, you’d be mistaken — but you wouldn’t be alone.

In fact, the website for the Heart Rhythm Society, or HRS, says more than 65% of Americans not only underestimate the seriousness of SCA, but also believe it’s a type of heart attack.

But that’s like comparing apples to oranges.

The HRS has a campaign underway right now, which is appropriate considering October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, aimed at educating people about SCA.

Here are a few things you might not have known:

  • More than 350,000 people die every year as a result of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • SCA claims one life every two minutes, taking more lives each year than breast cancer, lung cancer or AIDS.
  • To decrease the number of deaths, health officials say it’s important to learn about SCA: how to prevent it, what the warning signs are and how to respond if someone around you is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

On that last point, timing really is everything.

If a person suffers sudden cardiac arrest, time becomes especially critical.

Ninety-five percent of those who experience SCA die because they do not receive life-saving defibrillation within four to six minutes, before brain damage and death occur.

Learn more about the steps to take when responding to a potential SCA emergency.

Where to go from here?

OK, now that we’re all on the same page regarding the urgency and alarming statistics behind sudden cardiac arrest, what steps should we consider next?

You can access more information to better inform yourself and your loved ones.

You can learn your risk with this quick and easy tool online.

And you can read up about other heart-related topics for better health.