Silent Killer: Understanding the Gender Differences in Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Pregnancy, Mental Health, and Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Women

Each year, around 350,000 individuals experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting. While men are more commonly associated with this condition, 40 percent of these episodes involve women. The risks and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest can vary based on gender.

Nancy Dagefoerde, an advanced practice nurse at the OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute, explains that sudden cardiac arrest can occur in any adult, especially those aged 30 and above. Factors such as family history, risk factors, and congenital heart defects can contribute to the likelihood of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. This condition arises from an irregular heartbeat known as an arrhythmia, which causes the heart to stop beating or lose electrical activity completely, resulting in the affected person displaying no breathing or pulse.

Dagefoerde emphasizes the distinction between sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack, clarifying that the latter occurs when there is a blockage in the coronary artery surrounding the heart. Despite lingering stigma around mental health, more individuals are seeking treatment when needed. For pregnant women contemplating the safety of medications like Zoloft or Prozac, Sarah Shoemaker, a certified nurse midwife at OSF HealthCare, advises discussing these concerns with a healthcare provider early on

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