$3.8 million grant fuels UW’s sudden cardiac arrest study


picture of man giving CPR to another man who has fallen to the ground
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More than 350,000 people a year experience the event in the United States, and about 90% of them die.

The American Heart Association today announced a concerted research effort toward sudden cardiac arrest. The endeavor will comprise four U.S. centers, each honing in on distinct aspects of the often-fatal events to better understand contributing factors and improve survival rates. Each center will receive about $3.8 million over a four-year span.

One of those centers, at the University of Washington, will be led by Dr. Nona Sotoodehnia, associate professor of cardiology at the UW School of Medicine and co-director of the Cardiovascular Health Research Unit in Seattle. The center will have input from UW faculty in multiple disciplines as well as from collaborators at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and the University of Rochester in New York.

picture of Dr. Nona Sotoodehnia

UW Medicine cardiologist Nona Sotoodehnia will lead the Seattle-based center for this study.

“Currently, the approach to cardiac arrest research and clinical care largely takes a one-size-fits-most approach, treating men and women similarly,” Sotoodehnia said. “But key differences exist between men and women in cardiac arrest incidence, risk factors, underlying pathology, and outcomes, highlighting the need for a more individualized approach.”

During sudden cardiac arrest, a person’s heart abruptly stops beating. It happens to adults and children, and can be fatal within minutes without effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation. More than 350,000 people a year experience the event in the United States annually, and about 90% of them die.

The UW-based center will conduct three research projects and have a training component:

  • Project 1: Involves genomic approaches to identify who’s at high risk for cardiac arrest in the general population and to understand the underlying causes of cardiac arrest in men and women.
  • Project 2: Aims are to better identify men and women at particularly high risk of arrhythmic events among those with inherited arrhythmic disorders. It will examine differences in response to defibrillation between these men and women and examine the association of female sex hormones with arrhythmia risk.
  • Project 3: Will create a sex-based, computer-generated algorithm that will guide real-time precision resuscitative care.
  • Training: The aim is to develop and expand expertise in cardiac arrest research.

The UW researchers involved represent the departments of Applied Mathematics, Biostatistics, Emergency Medicine, Epidemiology, Genome Sciences, and Medicine.

The Heart Association simultaneously announced the funding of three other centers to investigate sudden cardiac arrest. They are based at Northwestern University in Illinois, the University of Michigan, and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

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