Three people standing with illustrated hearts on their chests

Myth: "I'm healthy, so cardiac arrest won't happen to me." 

Fact: Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, no matter your age or fitness level. Over 35,000 cardiac arrests happen every year in Canada--to kids, teens, adults and seniors. Most happen at home or in public, and on average, less than 10 per cent of people survive. Our community is no exception. 

Cardiac health survey

Learn or refresh your CPR skills in a way you've never seen! Heart & Stroke's CardiacCrashTM is a free, fun, gamified experience that teaches lifesaving skills in just one hour, open to teens, adults and groups. CardiacCrashTM 2024 sessions are now in the events calendar!

Last modified: Nov. 30, 2023, 3:07 p.m.

What is cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest can happen without warning. The heart suddenly stops beating and isn't pumping blood to the body due to an abnormal rhythm. Death can happen within minutes without immediate medical help. Most people die from cardiac arrest because bystanders don't know what to do, are hesitant to act or medical help doesn't arrive in time.

The good news--when bystanders use CPR, survival rates double. When they use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), survival rates triple. And when the AED delivers a shock to a heart that needs it, survival rates increase five-fold.

What you can do

If you see:

  • Sudden collapse
  • Unresponsive to noise or touch, or making gasping sounds
  • Not breathing

Act immediately! Call 9-1-1, start CPR and yell for an AED. Every second counts. You may not know what happened, but a heart in cardiac arrest will need an AED to reset its normal rhythm. AEDs won't shock a heart that doesn't need it.

Knowing CPR can save someone's life.

Join us for Heart & Stroke's CardiacCrashTM

Heart & Stroke's CardiacCrashTM is unlike any other CPR training you know. It's a fun, gamified and interactive experience created by Heart & StrokeTM Canada. In less than one hour, you'll learn skills that can literally save someone's life. In partnership with Heart & StrokeTM, the County is hosting free Heart & Stroke CardiacCrashTM sessions, open to anyone 13+ including school and work groups.  Heart and Stroke Cardiac Crash logo

Cardiac arrest vs. heart attack

Women and men can experience different signs of a heart attack.

Cardiac arrest and heart attack are not the same.

Cardiac arrest Heart attack
Medical emergency Medical emergency
Death can happen within minutes without immediate action Damage to the heart increases with every minute of delayed treatment
The heart has stopped beating and can't pump blood to the body The heart continues to pump blood
Caused by an abnormal heart rhythm due to medical or other factors Caused by blood flow blockage to the heart
An "electrical" problem A "plumbing" problem
Does not turn into a heart attack Can turn into cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest signs and symptoms

People of all ages and fitness levels, even children and athletes, can go into cardiac arrest. It is rare in people under 25, and often due to pre-existing medical conditions, but it is still important to know the potential signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest in young people:

  • Change in exercise tolerance 
  • Excessive fatigue during exercise 
  • Racing heart/palpitations 
  • Shortness of breath during exercise 
  • Fainting or seizure from exercise, excitement, distress or being startled 
  • Fainting, seizure or dizziness during or just after physical activity 

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Heart health resources

  • Heart and Stroke CanadaTM is an organization dedicated to fighting heart conditions like cardiac arrest, heart disease and stroke. Visit their website for extensive information about heart health, healthy living, research, stats and data, and more. 
  • WECAN Food Basket Society offers fresh and nutritious food at affordable prices.

Last updated: Thursday, November 30, 2023
Page ID: 51482