In the United States, 50-60 individuals suffer a cardiac arrest each hour, amounting to approximately 250,000 deaths every year. In the first five minutes of a cardiac arrest, ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation are the most frequent cardiac arrhythmias encountered. Despite emergency medical response systems, the long-term survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest remains poor in most US cities. Paramount to achieving successful resuscitation of a cardiac arrest victim is providing early defibrillation. This issue of Cardiac Electrophysiology Clinics covers a full spectrum of issues related to sudden cardiac death, including the epidemiology of sudden cardiac death, advances in CPR, the implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD), and VT ablation.
By Ranjan K. Thakur, MD, MPH, FHRS and Andrea Natale, MD, FACC, FHRS