Heavy Heart and Sudden Death: Who is at greater risk?

11/19/2007 - Webcast

Guests Include:

Sumeet Chugh, M.D.
Director of Oregon Health & Science University’s Cardiac Arrhythmia Center
Oregon Health & Science University

Sandy Kawamoto
Patient diagnosed with Long QT

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Often times we think of death as a late life inevitable occurrence, but the reality is, it can happen at any given moment. One condition that gives no forewarning is sudden cardiac arrest. According to the American Heart Association , 250,000 Americans each year succumb to sudden heart related deaths. Cardiac arrest is defined as death within one hour of the time a person displays symptoms, such as chest pain or difficulty breathing. About half of these people show no prior evidence of heart disease and about 40 percent are under the age of 65. This can be seen in the case of patient Sandy Kawamoto.

Mrs. Kawamoto was born with a heart defect called long QT, a sudden racing of the heart that can lead to unconsciousness - in some cases, cardiac arrest and perhaps sudden death. Sandy's darkest day was in 1990 when she suffered a cardiac arrest attack; miraculously her husband who did CPR on the spot saved her life. She is currently taking medications and has an internal defibrillator to help regulate her heartbeat.

Joining us is Dr. Sumeet Chugh, director of Oregon Health & Science University’s Cardiac Arrhythmia Center in the division of cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Chugh is a clinical cardiologist and specialist in the treatment of patients with heart rhythm problems. His expertise is in the technique of radiofrequency ablation and surgical implantation as well as follow-up treatment with defibrillators, pacemakers and biventricular pacemakers. Dr. Chugh discusses key medications in the treatment of patients with heart failure, such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. These medications decrease the yearly risk of cardiac arrest in a given patient, but Dr. Chugh emphasizes that maximum effect and benefit comes from the implanted defibrillator.

In this Patient Power program, Andrew and Dr. Chugh discuss how new findings are helping identify patients who are at greater risk for sudden cardiac arrest. They also discuss new approaches to treatment, the effectiveness of defibrillators, sudden death in young athletes, and available clinical trials.