Sudden Death Prevention: Catch Cardiac Arrest Before It Happens

Sudden death at the hands of cardiac arrest claims 325,000 lives each year in the United States, which rivals cancer as the top cause of death in the country. While there may not appear to be any good news in this grim statistic, there are effective ways to stay one step ahead of cardiac arrest through knowledge, action, and targeted treatments.

At Heart Rhythm Associates, Dr. Van H. De Bruyn and our team are dedicated to the heart health of our patients in central Arkansas and the Little Rock area. Our goal is to see statistics like the one mentioned above come down, which we can accomplish through preventive action.

Here’s a look at sudden death prevention and how we can help you catch a cardiac arrest before it happens.

In the know

Many of the conditions that fall under heart disease are known as “silent killers,” because of the lack of symptoms that lead up to a life-ending cardiac event. While these symptoms may not be noticeable, they are there, if you know where to look. 

At our practice, we offer sudden death prevention screenings to assess your risk of cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is often the result of an electrical malfunction that affects your heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of your body. While there’s no crystal ball when it comes to your heart, there are red flags that can signal potential danger.

During your screening, Dr. De Bruyn conducts a complete assessment of your heart health through:

The sudden prevention screening is an extremely valuable tool that can identify potential problems, allowing you and Dr. De Bruyn to take quick, evasive action.

Putting prevention into action

If Dr. De Bruyn detects a potential problem, his recommendation will depend upon many things, such as:

If Dr. De Bruyn finds that your risk is mild to moderate, he typically starts out conservatively with lifestyle modification recommendations and prescription medications that enable your cardiovascular system to function better. 

These lifestyle recommendations is where your participation is critical in mitigating your risk factors and may include steps like:

These steps are imperative to lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.

If Dr. De Bruyn finds that the threat of cardiac arrest is higher, which may be due to a heart arrhythmia or heart failure, he may recommend a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) to regulate your heart rhythm.

The difference between a pacemaker and an ICD

When it comes to regulating your heart rhythm, there are two ways to go about it:


A pacemaker is a device that sends electrical signals into your heart muscle to regulate your heart rate.


An ICD is a device that senses dangerous heart rhythms and delivers a shock to your heart. The ICD device delivers one of three therapies, depending upon what it registers:

This small, implantable device is like having an automatic external defibrillator (like you see at airports or restaurants) on call 24/7.

With each of the devices, Dr. De Bruyn surgically implants the unit under your skin and hooks it up to your heart through electrodes. The procedure itself isn’t terribly invasive, but you need to have the batteries changed or the units swapped out every five to eight years or more.

The first step in preventing sudden death due to cardiac arrest is yours to make, and it’s the easiest prevention step you can take — simply give us a call to set up your screening.

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