Cardiac Arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function. It is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest too.
Irregular heart rhythms, called arrhythmia may cause cardiac arrest. A common arrhythmia associated with cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. It means that the heart’s lower chambers suddenly starts beating frantically and stop pumping blood. It can be fatal if medical facility is not given immediately. Usually cardiac arrest happens without any warning.
So how would you know if you are having cardiac arrest? You may show these following symptoms-
- Chest discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling dizzy
- Collapse abruptly
If the rhythm of the heartbeat accelerates or slow down too much, it means the heart’s electrical system has gone wrong which in turn may lead to cardiac arrest. It can also happen to people with no heart disease. But a life threatening arrhythmia usually happens with a person suffering from some type of heart ailment.
People often misinterpret heart attack with cardiac arrest. But it is certainly not the same thing, as cardiac arrest happens when the heart malfunctions or it may be said that the heart’s electrical system fluctuates. Whereas a heart attack happens when blocked artery prevents oxygen rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. During a heart attack the heart doesn’t usually stop beating. But with cardiac arrest as the heart starts to malfunction or beat in an irregular manner, the heart is not able to pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. If not treated immediately it might prove fatal.
What are the usual symptoms that you should not ignore and see the doctor immediately?
- Discomfort or pain in chest
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or losing consciousness
Signs that can be observed if someone is having cardiac arrest:
The patient in such circumstances wouldn’t –
- Seem to be moving, speaking, blinking or showing any type of mobility. At such time even if tapped on the shoulders patient won’t be able to respond.
- The person would be gasping for air.
The best immediate response is to provide CPR as soon as possible. Until medical help arrives this is the best treatment a bystander or relative could provide to the patient. CPR could be provided by any one with the knowledge of how to administer it.
To administer CPR one simply has to push down at least two inches at the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute and allowing the chest to come back up to its normal position after each push.
CPR should be continued until the person starts to breathe or move on his own or until some medical help arrives.
- In most cases of sudden cardiac arrest people seem to have been suffering from coronary artery diseases for some time. Most of the times cholesterol and other deposits clog the arteries and reduce the blood flow to the heart.
- Due to severe coronary artery disease, heart attack may occur, which in turn may trigger cardiac arrest.
- Children and adolescents may suffer from cardiac arrest too if they had some kind of congenital heart disease at birth.
- Adults who have gone through corrective surgery for congenital heart disease face a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
- Another condition that leads to arrhythmia is when the heart’s muscular walls stretch and enlarge.
- The hearts electrical system controls the rhythm of the heartbeat. Sometimes people face the problem in the electrical system instead of the heart muscle or valves.
People with these type of history could also be at risk from cardiac arrest.
- Smoking for a long time
- Suffering from high blood pressure
- Inactive lifestyle with more or less no physical activity
- Suffering from high blood cholesterol
- There is a family history of coronary artery disease
Cardiac arrest survivors sometimes show signs of brain damage as during attack the blood flow to the brain slows down leading to unconsciousness. If the patient take longer time to revive, brain damage may occur. Otherwise death is inevitable.
There are some other factors that might increase the risk of cardiac arrest. They are as follows :
- Patient having heart attack or cardiac arrest previously
- Using drugs like cocaine etc.
- Low nutrition
- Chronic kidney disease
- Old age
- Family history of heart diseases
Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in older adults as well as young athletes. For a variety of reasons something causes the heart to beat out of control.
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