What Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt and unexpected stopping of the heartbeat. In this condition, patients experience a sudden loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness.
Usually, an electrical cardiac failure causes SCA. It affects the heart’s pumping action and stops delivering blood to the brain, lungs, and other body organs.
What Is the Survival Rate of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
SDA happens when the heart stops beating, causing sudden cardiac death. Survival is possible only if a patient gets urgent medical care. In case immediate treatment is not provided, a person may die.
Approximately more than 350,000 cases occur each year where a victim can not make it to the hospital. In such cases, the survival rate is less than 12 percent. A quick combination of CPR and defibrillation can increase the chances of survival.
What Is the Difference Between Cardiac Arrest and Heart Attack?
A sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. The person may have a heart attack due to the blockage in one or more coronary arteries. It will ultimately prevent the heart from getting sufficient oxygen-rich blood. During a heart attack, the heart usually doesn’t suddenly stop beating.
On the other hand, a person experiences cardiac arrest when the electrical system to the heart malfunctions. Hence, blood is not delivered to other body parts. Due to the reduced supply of blood to the brain, a person will ultimately lose consciousness. The patient may die if immediate treatment is not provided.
What Are the Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?
Most of the time, SCA happens without any warning. Usually, the first sign that a person experiences in SCA is loss of consciousness (fainting). It occurs when the heart stops beating. Other most common symptoms include:
- Sudden collapse
- No pulse
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Chest discomfort
- Palpitations (fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart)
First Thing You Should Do If Someone Goes Into Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
In most cases, cardiac arrest is reversible if treated within a few minutes. If you see someone unconscious and not breathing normally, you need to take the following steps immediately.
- Call 911 for Emergency Medical Services
If you have access to the mobile phone, contact 911 and ask for emergency medical help.
- Perform CPR
Check if the person is breathing properly or not. If you find out that the person’s heart rate and rhythm are abnormal, start CPR. Having proper training can effectively help you to deliver the rescue breaths after every 30 compressions.
In case you are not trained, start doing chest compressions. Continue doing this with the same pattern until a portable defibrillator or emergency workers take over.
- Using a Portable Defibrillator
Use a portable defibrillator if available. It will provide you with detailed instructions. The defibrillator is utilized to check the heartbeat of a person and suggest giving a shock if needed. If the device recommends, deliver one shock to the patient. After that, immediately resume CPR. By using the defibrillator, recheck the heartbeat of the person. Repeat this pattern until the person is stable or emergency workers are available.
Why Does Sudden Cardiac Arrest Occur?
An electrical system controls the heart’s rate and rhythm. A person may have SCA if the heart’s electrical system stops working properly. It can eventually cause abnormal heart rhythms. These irregular heartbeats are also known as arrhythmias. The most dangerous arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation. It will stop the heart from pumping blood. Death will occur within minutes if immediate treatment is not given to the patient.
Certain other conditions are also responsible for electrical problems leading to sudden cardiac arrest. They include:
- Physical stress
- Certain inherited disorders
- Structural changes in the heart
- Congenital heart disease
What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young Adults?
Most SCD cases are associated with underlying cardiovascular disease. In younger people, it usually occurs as a result of congenital heart defects.
What Causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Athletes?
Older athletes are usually affected by this condition due to the presence of coronary artery disease.
Can sudden cardiac arrest be prevented?
It is possible to reduce the chances of having a sudden cardiac arrest. You can achieve this by: