Most "sudden" cardiac arrests are not sudden in the sense that most patients have seen a doctor or hospitalized in the two weeks prior to their onset.
The researchers used a Danish registry of 28,955 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests recorded from 2001 to 2014 to track patient interactions with doctors and hospitals in the year prior to the event.
They found that 57 percent of them had either contacted a doctor or a hospital in the two weeks prior to their arrest. The data were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.
In the year prior to the event, patient visits to the hospital gradually increased to 7 percent in the week before the event, from 3 percent in the week a year ago. Her personal or telephone contact with her doctors was similar, rising from a relatively constant 26 percent per week in the week before the arrest to 54 percent for the rest of the year. About 14 percent of the general population contacted their doctors during the same period.
Lead author, Nertila Zylyftari, a researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital, said the study did not have the data to identify specific warning signs of cardiac arrest. Still, she said, "There are these additional healthcare contacts, and that means there is an opportunity to focus more on identifying those at risk in future studies."