PLATTSBURGH Dr. Samer Siouffi of Lake Champlain Cardiology Associates, located at 52 Tom Miller Road in Plattsburgh, is sending out an important message. Because sudden cardiac is the cause of 300-400,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, if youve had a history of heart disease, you need to know your ejection fraction. That is the fraction of blood the heart ejects with each contraction, Siouffi explained. If that fraction is lower than normal the patient needs further evaluation, such as a non-invasive ultrasound. Why worry? Siouffi, who is board certified in cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology, was quick to provide the answer. Chaotic heart rhythm can cause sudden cardiac death (SCD). Thats when the heart just quits working, Siouffi added, and many of the people at risk tend to be under-treated. The survival rate, should your heart suddenly stop working, is only five percent, according to Siouffi. Even when immediately defibrillated, the survival is only 10 percent - at the most. Thats why it is so important to be proactive, he said. We can identify at risk patients before this happens. So bottom line - if you experience fatigue, shortness of breath and swelling and youve had a heart condition or a family history of it, you may want to find out what your ejection fraction is - before you experience a flat line. Siouffi is the first in the area to introduce an automated defibrillator, which can significantly improve the survival rate in patients with low ejection fractions. Sadly, only 20 percent of those who have indication of the need for the device actually get one. The automated defibrillator is a life-saving device that in Siouffis opinion, is under appreciated due to a lack of education. Those interested in learning more can do so by visiting the Heart Rhythm Societys Web site at www.hrspatients.org. Again, if youve had heart problems you usually know your blood pressure, know your cholesterol levels - but you should also know your ejection fraction! Samer Siouffi is a graduate of American University of Beirut, Lebanon. His training includes: Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS; Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH.