Educational Materials

Learn About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 300,000 lives each year. During a sudden cardiac arrest, heart function ceases – abruptly and without warning. When this occurs, the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body, and in some 95 percent of victims, death occurs.

While Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a significant public health crisis, it is often misunderstood. SCA is not a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when a blood vessel becomes blocked and interrupts blood flow to the heart, causing heart muscle to die. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating. Most of these deaths occur with little or no warning, from a syndrome called sudden cardiac arrest. The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest is a disturbance in the heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation.

The devastating effects of sudden cardiac arrest can be prevented. For individuals identified as at high risk, preventative treatments include both drug therapies and medical devices called implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).

Once a cardiac arrest occurs, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation is required within the first several minutes to restore electrical activity to the heart and revive the heart's pumping function. Availability of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) is critical for rapid response to cardiac arrest.

The following documents outline the threat of sudden cardiac arrest and detail methods of dealing with this growing crisis.

SCA Fact Sheet Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) Inplantable Cardioverter Devices (ICDs)
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) SCA Risk Assessment SCA vs Heart Attack
Ejection Fraction Number Heart Failure Cardiac Rehabilitation and Sudden Cardiac Arrest 
Diagnostic Testing

On-Site AED Placement

Preparing for a Device
Therapeutic Hypothermia and Sudden Cardiac Arrest Recovery SCAA Glossary Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator (WCD)
Lab Tests for Heart Disease Atherosclerosis Long QT
 Women and Heart Disease  Emergency Planning with Athletics  

Relevant Medical Research

Ohio University Infographic of AED & School Athletics

Management of SCA in Athletes

Preventing Sudden Death on the Athletic Field The Emergency Action Plan

Casino Studies

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Advancing Awareness and Bridging Gaps to Improve Survival Whitepaper

AEDs Clinical Benefits and Legal Liability

Microvolt T-wave Alternans Case Study

New England Journal of Medicine Study on SCA and Marathons

New England Journal of Medicine Acute Coronary Thrombosis in Boston Marathon Runners


Public Access to Defibrillation (PAD)

What are PAD programs, and how can you implement one in your area? Visit the SCAA PAD Page to find out.


Surviving:  Living Life after Cardiac Arrest

Surviving SCA is rare, and for the six percent who do, life after a cardiac arrest can be challenging. The recovery period is often marked by psychological and social adjustments for both survivors and their family members. 

Survivor Brochure

"Living with an ICD" Brochures

SCAA offers this brochure as a resource for ICD implantees to better understand their device. The brochure is available in several languages with more translations to come.

Living with an ICD (English)

Living with an ICD (German) Living with an ICD (French)
Living with an ICD (Greek)
Living with an ICD (Polish)
Living with an ICD (Portuguese)
Living with an ICD (Russian)
Living with an ICD (Spanish)

Preventive Care

Well-designed prevention and cardiovascular disease management programs can both improve your overall health and also reduce health care costs from ongoing treatment related to heart disease. Ongoing prevention management and intervention can greatly improve cardiovascular health outcomes. Heart health and SCA prevention means more than knowing the symptoms – a regular routine of good exercise, diet and lifestyle habits in combination with prevention services such as routine screenings are crucial to cardiovascular health, which ultimately help to reduce the prevalence of sudden cardiac arrest.

Preventive Care Fact Sheet Preventive Care Fact Sheet (Spanish)

AED Registry 

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA) is pleased to announce a collaboration with the Atrus National AED Registry to provide free online management and maintenance reminders for automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

An investment in an AED for the workplace, home, school, house of worship or business establishment is a wise acquisition.  The SCAA strongly encourages training on the equipment and a routine maintenance schedule to ensure that the device is in working order.  The National AED Registry is a source for regular email reminders and other updates about your device.  For more information, please go to


This list was compiled from the individual State’s Good Samaritan laws as they related to Automated External Defibrillators. It is believed to be a current list and is intended solely as a guide. It is not intended for use as legal advice or as legal opinion.

The SCAA provides this link as a service to its members and the general public.  It receives no compensation for this link and has no business relationship with Atrus or the National AED Registry.  The services provided by the National AED Registry will be direct correspondence between the Registry and the registrant.  Separate from the maintenance services provided, registrants have the option of listing their device in the Atrus National AED Registry, but that decision is at the sole discretion of the AED owner/registrant.  All questions about the National AED Registry and its products and services should be directed to Atrus, Inc. at


SCAA not responsible for the content of these references and does not evaluate each of the books listed here for medical content.

Cohen Book

In the News

None at this time.

All News Stories »