Cardiac arrests are still rare in young people, and are usually caused by other heart conditions. But the study, which analyzed 30 years of data from Kings County in Washington state, is still troubling. The analysis pegs the amount of young people who have suffered from cardiac arrest at 2.3 per 100,000 a year.
That number is a significant difference from another statistic, which were around 1 per every 200,000. That number only represented young athletes under the age of 35 rather than young people in general. Conceivably, both statistics could be true, since one relates simply to athletes, and the other to all young people, who may have heart conditions at higher rates.
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood to the body. Without immediate treatment, they are usually fatal. Even with treatment, they are oftentimes deadly. In older adults, heart attacks can be brought on by anything from stress to vigorous exercise, but are often associated with poor heart health.
One of the major causes for heart attacks is ventricular fibrillation. This occurs when the heart's chambers shake uncontrollably and chaotically. A medical device called a defibrillator (often used in television shows about doctors for every cause from a coma to a bad cough) can shock the heart into a normal rhythm.
Fortunately, the study also says that young people's recoveries from cardiac arrest have greatly improved since the beginning of the time period studied by researchers. The survival rate has increased from 13 percent in the 1980s to 40 percent today.
The increase can probably be traced to better public health and research efforts. Research has found improved cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) methods, and outreach has led to more people learning how to perform it. While CPR cannot save everyone from cardiac arrest, its ability to keep blood and oxygen moving throughout the body can serve as a great buffer while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.