Can sudden cardiac death be treated? Harvard Men’s Health Watch explains

Published: August, 2004

Of the 460,000 sudden deaths that occur annually in the United States , about 90% are due to coronary artery disease, and 75% of the victims are men. The good news is that sudden cardiac death doesn't have to be fatal. The September issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch details the advances in sudden cardiac death risk identification and treatment.

There are several tests available for physicians to identify risk of sudden cardiac death. They can also prescribe treatment to help prevent the crisis from initially occurring, although some of these medications can have major side effects. As researchers look to develop better drugs, the implantable cardiac defibrillator, a device that can prevent sudden death in patients at risk for ventricular fibrillation, has already helped thousands of people. Even further, the development of an automated external defibrillator allows ordinary people to revive victims. Doctors can rescue people from sudden cardiac death, often permitting years of productive life.

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