Recognizing Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Its Signs

Sudden cardiac arrest, or cardiac arrest, poses a heightened risk of mortality. In fact, in today’s era, cardiac arrest is one of the significant contributors to fatalities. Most people often confuse cardiac arrest with a heart attack, but there is a distinction.

Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack

Cardiac arrest is a result of an electrical issue in the heart, causing the heart’s rhythm to cease, leading to a sudden stoppage of heart function. If immediate medical assistance is not provided, it can often be fatal.

On the other hand, a heart attack results from blocked blood vessels, which damage the heart’s muscle but the heart continues to beat.

However, a heart attack can sometimes lead to changes in the heart’s electrical activity, increasing the risk of cardiac arrest.

Signs of Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest often occurs without any warning signs, but several symptoms may manifest:

  • Sudden loss of consciousness.
  • Absence of a pulse.
  • Ceased breathing.
  • Fainting suddenly.

Some individuals may experience warning signs before cardiac arrest, which include:

  • Chest discomfort.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Profound weakness.
  • A very rapid heartbeat.

A recent study at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the United States revealed that 50% or more of cardiac arrest patients experience these signs 24 hours before their heart’s activity stops.

The study also found gender differences in the presentation of these signs:

  • Women often experience difficulty breathing as the most prominent sign of cardiac arrest.
  • In contrast, men tend to have chest discomfort as the common symptom.

Some individuals at risk of cardiac arrest may also exhibit flu-like symptoms.

If you witness someone suddenly losing consciousness and not breathing, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial.

Who Is at Risk?

Various factors increase the risk of heart diseases, including a family history of heart diseases, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and prolonged sedentary behavior, which also elevate the risk of cardiac arrest.

Furthermore, certain other elements can contribute to this risk, such as aging, substance abuse, low levels of potassium or magnesium in the body, existing heart conditions, and diseases related to the airways, like obstructive sleep apnea.

Prevention Measures

Maintaining a healthy heart significantly reduces the risk of cardiac arrest. To achieve this, one should focus on:

  • Consuming a healthy diet.
  • Incorporating regular physical activity into daily routines.
  • Avoiding tobacco use.
  • Managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Note: This article is based on details published in medical journals; readers are advised to consult their healthcare provider regarding these matters.

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