How To Avoid Having Sudden Cardiac Arrest That Causes Death
Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. The time and mode of death are unexpected. It occurs instantly or shortly after symptoms appear.
Is a heart attack the same as cardiac arrest?
No. The term “heart attack” is often mistakenly used to describe cardiac arrest. While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest and sudden death, the terms don’t mean the same thing. Heart attacks are caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. A heart attack (or myocardial infarction) refers to death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply, not necessarily resulting in the death of the heart attack victim.
Cardiac arrest is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. In cardiac arrest death results when the heart suddenly stops working properly. This may be caused by abnormal, or irregular, heart rhythms (called arrhythmias).
A common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. This is when the heart’s lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and don’t pump blood. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops. Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is performed and a defibrillator is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes.
Signs and symptoms of Cardiac Arrest:
Cardiac arrest is sometimes preceded by certain symptoms such as fainting, fatigue, blackouts, dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness, vomiting, and chest pain. The arrest may also occur with no warning. The symptoms also include the absence of breathing or loss of consciousness.
What are the major causes of Cardiac Arrest?
Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of cardiac arrest. Other less common causes are major blood loss, lack of oxygen, very low potassium, heart failure, and intense physical exercise.
A number of inherited disorders may also increase the risk including long QT syndrome. The initial heart rhythm is most often ventricular fibrillation.
The diagnosis is confirmed by finding no pulse. While a cardiac arrest may be caused by heart attack or heart failure, these are not the same.
What are the other causes of Cardiac Arrest?
As mentioned earlier, coronary artery disease is the leading major cause of sudden cardiac arrest. There are hosts of other cardiac and non-cardiac conditions that also increase the risk. Coronary artery disease often results in coronary ischemia and ventricular fibrillation (v-fib). Cases have shown that the most common finding at postmortem examination of SCD is chronic high-grade stenosis of at least one segment of a major coronary artery, the arteries that supply the heart muscle with its blood supply.
Left ventricular hypertrophy is believed to be the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in the adult population. This is usually the result of severe high blood pressure which has caused secondary damage to the wall of the main pumping chamber of the heart, the left ventricle.
How to Prevent Cardiac Arrest?
The best prevention of cardiac arrest is to quit smoking, avoid heavy physical activity, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy weight. The treatment for cardiac arrest is immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and if a shockable rhythm is present, defibrillation is used. An implantable cardiac defibrillator may be placed to reduce the chance of death from recurrence.
If you observe any of the above-mentioned symptoms in anyone close to you, please rush to the hospital or call emergency services immediately. Sudden cardiac arrest is killing quite a lot of young people these days.