LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -It's responsible for half of all heart disease deaths…sudden cardiac death. It occurs when your heart abruptly stops, so no blood is pumped to the rest of your body.
As the name suggests, sudden cardiac death is abrupt and unexpected. The most common cause is coronary artery disease.
"Other things that are important are changes on an EKG during a stress test, smoking, high blood pressure, people with known coronary disease, Type 2 diabetes and positive family history," said Dr. Robert Sweeney, a cardiologist at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.
However, sudden cardiac death can happen to people who otherwise seem healthy.
"What gets a lot of press are when we hear that a marathon runner has sudden cardiac death, in actuality it is unusual, extremely unusual," Dr. Sweeny said.
According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of adults who die from sudden cardiac death have two or more major coronary arteries narrowed by fatty buildups.
Dr. Sweeney says most studies on sudden death for athletes, like marathon runners, show some sort of established heart disease that went undetected.
"Unsuspected coronary artery disease or a structural abnormality. I wouldn't necessarily say that marathon runners out of the whole are at a higher risk for sudden cardiac death, I would say that people that are not physically fit are at a higher risk for sudden cardiac death," Dr. Sweeney advised.
If medicine fails for patients at risk of sudden cardiac death, doctors can implant a defibrillator. The implanted defibrillator works by recording and monitoring every heartbeat. If too many abnormal rhythms occur, the defibrillator will shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. But Dr. Sweeney says the best thing to do is to prevent the need for a defibrillator in the first place. That means lowering risk factors, like making the decision to quit smoking, lose weight and exercise.
In other health news, Comanche County Memorial Hospital will host a weight loss options luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 11:30 a.m. in Oakwood Conference Center. The cost is $5 and includes a healthy lunch. The guest speaker will be bariatric surgeon Dr. Michael Sawyer. He will be discussing innovative weight loss options. For more information and to make a reservation, call 580-585-5406.
Mark your calendar for the healthy heart screenings which will be held Feb. 29 and March 1 from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Oakwood Conference Center. The screening is $20 and includes A1C, good, bad and total cholesterol, triglycerides and heart risk assessment. To make an appointment, call 580-585-5406.