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What to expect after a loved one survives sudden cardiac arrest

Having a family member suffer from sudden cardiac arrest is frightening, but there are plenty of resources to help you and your family. It is perfectly normal to be going through shock, anger, denial, or sadness at first.

Witnessing the event can be especially traumatizing and many family members feel they didn’t do the right thing or know how to help. It is important to talk about these feelings, either with a family member, friend, or a professional. Remember, the key is to focus on the recovery you and your family member still have ahead of you. But don’t worry—there is plenty of help to assist you and your loved one.

Survivors often describe physical, mental, and emotional changes after the event—some that last for a few hours, and others that never go away. While each person’s experience is unique, many have said they share similar feelings and go through the same lifestyle changes, from receiving an implanted defibrillator (ICD) to new thoughts about their own mortality. You may have similar feelings, including fears that it may happen again or worries about what an ICD is and what to do if it goes off.

Many SCA Survivors face challenges after their SCA. Knowing that these are possibilities and are normal reactions can make supporting your loved one an easier experience. Take a look at some of the challenges SCA survivors face.


How do we cope?

Despite all of these challenges, SCA survivors often return to normal life not long after the event. Some have found joining a Survivor Support Group helps them adjust, both emotionally and physically, to their new lives as survivors. Finding other people who’ve been through a similar experience will help with fears and anxiety and provide a forum to ask questions to someone who’s already been through this.

Sometimes, survivors find that more formal counseling is necessary. This applies to the family and friends of the survivor as well. If the emotional and mental challenges following the SCA persist or interfere with your life, or if you just need to talk, contact a professional.