Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month 2023

Presented by The Canadian SADS Foundation

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a medical emergency where the heart unexpectedly stops beating, halting blood flow to vital organs, including the brain. It can occur without warning, even in people who have no known heart disease. SCA is not a heart attack, though a heart attack can lead to SCA. It’s vital to understand the distinction: a heart attack is a circulation problem, while SCA is an electrical one.

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Recognizing Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What to Look For

If someone is experiencing a SCA, they will:

  • Collapse and lose consciousness.
  • Not be breathing or may be gasping for air.
  • Show no signs of circulation, such as pulse or movement.

Quick response is essential. Call 911, start CPR, and find the nearest AED. For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, the chances of survival decrease by 10%.

The Statistics: Why Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness is Crucial

Each year, an estimated 35,000 cardiac arrests occur in Canada. The vast majority happen in public places or at home (Heart and Stroke, 2023).

Few people survive SCA, yet survival rates double if a bystander promptly performs CPR and uses an Automated External Defibrillator.

Recognizing the signs of SCA and knowing how to respond can mean the difference between life and death. SCA doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, making public awareness and education paramount.

What is SADS?

The term ‘SADS’ stands for Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes, which encompasses a variety of cardiac arrhythmia conditions. These conditions, often inherited, can lead to unexpected deaths in young, seemingly healthy individuals. Recognizing the early warning signs is crucial in managing and preventing tragic outcomes.

Warning Signs

While these symptoms may not conclusively diagnose the presence of a SADS condition on their own, any one of them mandates a cardiac evaluation.


Fainting (syncope) or seizure during exercise, excitement, or startle.


Consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise.


Family history of unexpected and/or unexplained sudden death, especially in the young.

Inherited Cardiac Rhythm Conditions: A Brief Overview

SADS-related conditions can be primarily classified into two categories based on their nature:

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While electrical conditions disrupt the normal hearts rhythm due to signalling issues, structural conditions arise from physical changes or damage to the heart muscle or chambers.

With the right knowledge, early diagnosis, and intervention, the potential risks associated with SADS can be minimized. The Canadian SADS Foundation remains dedicated to raising awareness, fostering education, and supporting research to improve outcomes for those affected. Together, we can make a difference.

How You Can Make a Difference

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes are not just medical terms – they are real-life situations that impact countless individuals and families. This Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, we ask you to stand with us, to not only spread the word but to actively contribute to saving lives.

Here’s how you can make a tangible difference:

  1. Become a Life-Saver: You have the power to save a life. Empower yourself with CPR and AED training. Sudden cardiac arrests can strike without warning, and in those critical moments, your knowledge could be the difference between life and death. Take the pledge and become an equipped bystander.

Resources for Training:

Tip: Many employers support life-saving skills. Check with your workplace – they may cover the cost of your CPR & AED training.

  1. Know and Share the Signs: If equipped with the right information, early detection is possible. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs of SADS conditions and educate your loved ones. Sharing knowledge not only brings awareness but can potentially save a life. Follow us on X, Facebook, and Instagram to join us in spreading awareness!

3. Support our Mission: Donate to the Canadian SADS Foundation. Our commitment to promoting awareness, research, and supporting affected families is unwavering. But we can’t do it alone. Your generous donation will help us further our mission, ensuring a future where SCA and SADS are widely understood and promptly acted upon.