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What is cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest, or sudden cardiac arrest, occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops functioning.

Most cardiac arrests occur in the home or public places, and many are witnessed by a family member, co-worker or friend. Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that requires immediate action. You can save a life by learning and using the life-saving skills of First Aid and CPR, as well as understanding how to use an AED.

Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) such as ventricular fibrillation cause most cardiac arrests. Cardiac arrest can also be triggered by a variety of issues including: coronary heart disease, heart attacks, congenital heart disease, electrocution, or recreational drugs use.

Find out more about the signs of cardiac arrest.

Last modified: April 2014
Last reviewed: April 2014