Cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly stops beating. This can happen for many reasons, including a heart attack, electrocution, or drowning.
Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. It is a leading cause of death in the United States and claims more than 350,000 lives each year. If you are someone who wants to be prepared in case of an emergency, then this is the blog post for you! In this post, we will discuss what sudden cardiac arrest is, how to recognize the symptoms, and, most importantly – how to save a life in cardiac arrest.
What is cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly stops beating. This can happen for many reasons, including a heart attack, electrocution, or drowning. When this happens, blood flow to the brain and other vital organs stops. This can lead to serious health complications and even death if not treated immediately.
What are the symptoms of cardiac arrest?
Before the cardiac arrest, you could experience any of these signs:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
The most common symptom of cardiac arrest is sudden and unresponsive collapse. Other symptoms may include:
- No pulse
- No breathing
- Agonal gasping (a type of irregular breathing)
- Loss of consciousness
What are the causes of cardiac arrest?
The typical cause of unexpected cardiac arrest is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), which occurs when your heart’s electrical system malfunctions. There are many other possible causes of cardiac arrest, including:
- Heart attack: A heart attack is the death of heart muscle tissue as a result of a lack of blood supply. This is the most common cause of cardiac arrest. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked, usually by a build-up of plaque in the arteries. This can cause the heart to stop beating.
- Electrocution: This can happen if someone comes into contact with a live electrical current.
- Drowning: This can happen if someone is submerged in water for too long.
- Drug overdose: This can happen if someone takes too much of a drug, such as an opioid.
- Stroke: This can happen if someone has a stroke.
- Trauma: This can happen if someone suffers a traumatic injury, such as a car accident.
- Anaphylaxis: This can happen if someone has an allergic reaction.
Risk factors for cardiac arrest
Risk factors for cardiac arrest include:
- Coronary artery disease: This type of heart disease occurs when the coronary arteries are narrowed and thickened by blockages of plaque, which restricts the flow of blood to the heart. If left untreated, coronary artery disease can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias, which both can lead to cardiac arrest.
- Ventricular fibrillation: This is an abnormal heart rhythm in which the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) contract very quickly and irregularly. This can cause the heart to stop pumping blood effectively.
- Electrical Impulse Problems: Problems with your heart’s electrical system put you in greater danger of sudden cardiac death.
- Congenital heart disease: This is a type of heart defect that is present at birth. Congenital heart disease can cause arrhythmias and other electrical problems that can lead to cardiac arrest.
- Personal or family history of sudden cardiac death: If you or someone in your family has had sudden cardiac death, the risk of sudden cardiac arrest increases.
- Valvular heart disease: This is a type of heart disease that affects the valves of the heart. Valvular heart disease can lead to arrhythmias, which can cause cardiac arrest.
- High blood pressure: This can damage the arteries and lead to heart failure, arrhythmias, and cardiac arrest.
- Diabetes: This can damage the blood vessels and nerves, which can lead to heart disease and arrhythmias.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
What happens to the body after someone has suffered a cardiac arrest event?
After someone has suffered a cardiac arrest, their body will be in a state of shock. This means that the organs and systems of the body are not getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly.
The body will start to shut down, and the person may become unconscious. Cardiac arrest can lead to brain damage, organ failure, and death if not treated immediately.
How can you tell if someone is having a heart attack or experiencing cardiac arrest?
The symptoms of a heart attack and cardiac arrest can be similar. However, there are some key differences to look for.
- Chest pain or discomfort that lasts for more than a few minutes
- Pain that radiates to the arms, neck, or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Sudden collapse
- No pulse
- No breathing
If you think someone is having a heart attack or cardiac arrest, call 911 immediately. Do not wait to see if the symptoms go away.
How can I save a life in cardiac arrest?
If you see someone suffering from cardiac arrest, it is important to act quickly and call 911. Once the paramedics arrive, they will assess the situation and provide care. If you are trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), you can provide care until the paramedics arrive.
CPR is a life-saving technique that can be used to maintain blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. CPR can be performed by anyone, regardless of training or experience.
When performing CPR, it is important to:
- Check for responsiveness
- Call 911
- Push hard and fast in the center of the chest
- Continue CPR until the paramedics arrive
Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. By following the steps above, you can help save a life in cardiac arrest.
How is cardiac arrest diagnosed?
Cardiac arrest is diagnosed by a medical professional using a variety of tests, including:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test measures the electrical activity of the heart and can be used to diagnose arrhythmias.
- Blood tests: These tests can be used to measure levels of enzymes that are released when the heart is damaged.
- Imaging tests: These tests can be used to assess the structure and function of the heart.
- Coronary angiography: This test is used to visualize the coronary arteries and assess for blockages.
How can it be prevented?
There are many ways to prevent cardiac arrest, including:
- Not smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Keeping your blood pressure under control
- Controlling your cholesterol
- Managing your diabetes
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol
- Limiting your caffeine intake
- Wearing a seat belt
- Practicing safety measures at home, such as using a fire extinguisher and not using electrical appliances while wet
- Wearing a medical ID bracelet or necklace if you have a heart condition
How is cardiac arrest treated and what are the chances of survival?
For survival, a sudden cardiac arrest requires a prompt response.
Cardiac arrest is treated with CPR and immediate medical attention. The chances of survival depend on many factors, including the underlying cause of the cardiac arrest, the person’s age, and how quickly CPR is started.
According to the American Heart Association, about 90% of people who suffer from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die. However, CPR can double or triple a person’s chances of survival.
If you think someone is having a cardiac arrest, call 911 immediately and start CPR. Every second counts when it comes to saving a life in cardiac arrest.
Defibrillation is a medical procedure that uses an electric shock to stop an abnormal heart rhythm and restore the heart to its normal rhythm.
This procedure is often performed in a hospital setting, but there are also public access defibrillators (PADs) that can be used by trained laypeople to provide care in an emergency.
PADs are devices that are placed in public areas, such as airports, office buildings, and schools. They are easy to use and can be lifesaving in the event of a cardiac arrest. Immediate medical attention and defibrillation are the two key treatments for cardiac arrest.
The chances of survival from cardiac arrest are low, but prompt CPR and defibrillation can improve the chances of survival.
Some drugs can be used to treat cardiac arrest. These drugs include:
- Epinephrine: This drug is used to increase blood flow to the heart and can be given through an intravenous (IV) line or injected into the muscle.
- Atropine: This drug is used to slow the heart rate and can be given through an IV line.
- Lidocaine: This drug is used to treat irregular heart rhythms and can be given through an IV line.
- Amiodarone: This drug is used to treat irregular heart rhythms and can be given through an IV line.
Some people who have cardiac arrest may need surgery to correct the underlying cause of the condition. For example, someone who has a heart attack may need surgery to remove the blockage from their coronary artery.
- Coronary angioplasty: This procedure is used to open up blocked coronary arteries. A small balloon is inserted into the artery and inflated to widen the artery.
- Coronary artery bypass surgery: This procedure is used to create a new route for blood to flow around a blocked coronary artery.
- Aortic valve replacement: This procedure is used to replace a damaged aortic valve.
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator: This device is implanted under the skin and monitors the heart for abnormal rhythms. If an abnormal rhythm is detected, the device will deliver a shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm.
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy: This procedure is used to treat heart failure. It involves implanting a device that sends electrical impulses to the heart to help it pump more efficiently.
Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention for better results.