Patient Story: Sudden cardiac arrest is usually caused by an electrical disturbance in the heart, and leads to a sudden loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. Nine out of 10 people who experience sudden cardiac arrest, die from it. Fortunately, star basketball player Mike Papale survived because of the quick reaction of an EMT, who immediately initiated CPR and the chain of survival. Mike and his Mom, Joan, share their story of survival and living through the aftermath of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes. Second Opinion 5: Five things to know about sudden cardiac arrest.