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Major Risk Factors for Sudden Cardiac Arrest Recreational drug abuse Heart failure Birth defects of the heart/blood vessels, or an enlarged heart Risk Factors for SCA Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) Personal or family history of SCA Developing CAD The major risk factor for SCA is having coronary artery disease (CAD). Most people who have SCA have some degree of CAD. But most of these people don't know they have CAD until SCA occurs. Their CAD is "silent" (that is, it has no symptoms), and doctors and nurses have not previously found it. Because of this, most cases of SCA happen in people with silent CAD who have no known heart disease at the time of the event. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. nhlbi.nih.gov Lack of physical activity Overweight and obesity High blood pressure Increasing age Diabetes High blood cholesterol A family history of early cardiovascular disease Smoking