Study: Individuals feel sex-specific symptoms before impending cardiac arrest

Aug. 30, 2023
Smidt Heart Institute investigators found that 50% of individuals experienced warning signs prior to their cardiac arrest.

Investigators from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai are one step closer to helping individuals catch a sudden cardiac arrest before it happens, thanks to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet Digital Health.

The study, led by sudden cardiac arrest expert Sumeet Chugh, MD, found that 50% of individuals who experienced a sudden cardiac arrest also experienced a telling symptom 24 hours before their loss of heart function.

Smidt Heart Institute investigators also learned that this warning symptom was different for women than it was for men. For women, the most prominent symptom of an impending sudden cardiac arrest was shortness of breath, whereas men experienced chest pain.

Smaller subgroups of both genders experienced abnormal sweating and seizure-like activity.

Out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest claims the lives of 90% of people who experience it, marking an urgent need to better predict—and prevent—the condition.

For this study, investigators used two established and ongoing community-based studies, each developed by Chugh: the ongoing Prediction of Sudden Death in Multi-Ethnic Communities (PRESTO) Study in Ventura County, California, and the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study (SUDS), based in Portland, Oregon.

Both studies provide Cedars-Sinai investigators with unique, community-based data to establish how to best predict sudden cardiac arrest.

In both the Ventura and Oregon studies, Smidt Heart Institute investigators evaluated the prevalence of individual symptoms and sets of symptoms prior to sudden cardiac arrest, then compared these findings to control groups that also sought emergency medical care.

The Ventura-based study showed that 50% of the 823 people who had a sudden cardiac arrest witnessed by a bystander or emergency medicine professional, such as an emergency medicine service (EMS) responder, experienced at least one telltale symptom before their deadly event. The Oregon-based study showed similar results.

Cedars-Sinai release on Newswise

Photo 113188023 © Dedmityay |
Photo 29651839 © Manuel Alvarez Alonso |
Photo 104679825 © Julia Sudnitskaya |