One of the most common causes of death or cardiac arrest in young people is something called Brugada syndrome (see below). This condition causes the heart to go into ventricular fibrillation and will cause the heart to effectively stop beating.
Although this syndrome is potentially life threatening with rapid access to good initial bystander first aid and an AED! these patients can be effectively resuscitated (look at Fabrice Muamba!).
What is Brugada syndrome?
This is an inherited arrhythmia that causes the bottom chambers of the heart (the ventricles) to beat so fast that they can prevent the blood from circulating efficiently in the body. When this situation occurs (called ventricular fibrillation), the individual will faint and may die in a few minutes if the heart is not reset. While this is a disease that usually affects people in their 30’s, it has actually been described at all ages. So it is important to screen everybody in a family. Not everybody who has the disease will have arrhythmias. However, we can not know yet who will be OK and who will have problems. If you have had fainting spells related to Brugada syndrome, our experience indicates that you are at very high risk of having them again.
How common is Brugada syndrome?
It is very difficult to know because it was only described 10 years ago. It is found all over the world and in some countries in Asia is the most common cause of death in young people after car accidents.
Is there any medication for Brugada syndrome?
Not yet. Brugada syndrome was discovered 10 years ago, and there is no medication to prevent the blackouts yet.
Is there anything that resets the heart when it beats too fast?
Yes, there is a special pacemaker, called defibrillator, that when used in patients that have Brugada syndrome and blackouts, jump-starts the heart every time it malfunctions. All the patients who have a defibrillator are doing well.
You could help these people!
By attending a first aid training course and a defibrillator course you could potentially perform life-saving defibrillator before the ambulance arrives!