Cardiac Arrest - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Cardiac arrest


Cardiac arrest is the condition in which your heart stops beating, leading to loss of breathing and loss of consciousness. It usually occurs due to abnormality in the electrical impulses. Cardiac arrest is different from cardiac failure because it occurs suddenly, while heart failure is a gradual condition. 

Moreover, it is also different from a heart attack, which is a condition in which the blood vessel of the heart is blocked and the blood supply to it is disrupted. In cardiac arrest, the heart loses all its ability to pump blood or beat. 


Cardiac arrest is an emergency. You need to rush the patient to the hospital and get them the right and urgent medical care. Most healthcare providers perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation to get back the beating of the heart. The patient can die in minutes of cardiac arrest. 


Understanding the normal function of the heart


Your heart has four chambers, and two sides. The left side and the right side. The right side of the heart pumps blood to your lungs to receive oxygen, while the left side of your heart receives that blood from the lungs and pumps it to the whole body. 

The heart does all this work in two phases. First, the chambers of the heart relax to fill the blood known as diastole. Then, the heart contracts to eject the blood-filled in the chambers, a phase is known as systole.

Now that we have discussed the normal function of the heart, we can discuss the types of heart failure.



Symptoms 


The signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest are as follows. 


  • Loss of consciousness

  • No pulse

  • Sudden collapse

  • No breathing 


Other signs and symptoms that may occur before it can be described as follows. 


  • Chest pain 

  • Fast beating of the heart

  • Weakness 

  • Shortness of breath 

  • Difficulty breathing at rest




Causes Of Cardiac Arrest

There can be many causes of cardiac arrest. Here are some of them:


Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): This includes myocardial infarction (heart attack) and is the most common cause of cardiac arrest. It occurs when the arteries supplying oxygen to your heart (coronary arteries) are blocked or narrowed. It eventually results in ineffective functioning of the heart.


Cardiomyopathy: 


It is a condition in which your heart muscles are damaged resulting in improper functioning of the heart. It could occur due to infections, drugs, and other diseases.


Congenital Heart Diseases: 


This refers to structural defects present in the heart at the time of birth. 


Heart Valve defects: 


Your heart has four valves ( mitral, tricuspid, pulmonary, and aortic) that ensure blood flow in a proper direction. If due to any reason, the valves do not function properly, this may result in heart failure.


  • Other Causes

  • Conditions like;

  • hypertension

  • diabetes

  • infections

  • hypothyroidism

  • hyperthyroidism

  •  kidney failure

  • or hemochromatosis ( too much iron in the blood) can cause heart failure. 



Diagnosis of cardiac arrest


After taking a history and doing a physical examination, your doctor might order these tests to reach a diagnosis of cardiac arrest:


ECG (Electrocardiogram) : 


This is done to check the rhythm of your heart.

Chest X-Ray: 


This is done to check for any problem in your heart or lungs.


Echocardiogram: 


This test uses sound waves to take images of your heart that reveal information about any problem in the chambers, valves, or any other part of your heart. Your doctor will see ejection fraction to diagnose heart failure. Ejection Fraction is the amount of blood that your left ventricle pumps out during each contraction.



Risk factors 


Cardiac arrest is associated with coronary artery disease- a condition in which plaque builds up inside your arteries, leading to disruption of blood flow. Therefore, everything that puts you at risk of coronary artery disease will eventually put you at risk of cardiac arrest. These risk factors can be explained as follows.


  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Fat rich diet 

  • High blood pressure 

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • Smoking 

  • High blood cholesterol 

  • Obesity 

  • Sugar rich diet 

  • Family history of heart diseases, especially coronary artery disease


However, there are some other factors too that can increase your risk of cardiac arrest. They can be described as follows. 


  • Have had a heart attack

  • Have a family history of cardiac arrest, cardiac rhythm abnormalities, cardiac conduction abnormalities, cardiac myopathies, cardiac failure, and congenital heart diseases

  • Have had an episode of cardiac arrest previously

  • Using CNS stimulants like amphetamines or illegal drugs like cocaine 

  • Male gender

  • Electrolytes imbalance- that can occur due to medications use like corticosteroids, diuretics, or conditions like diarrhea or dehydration.

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Obstructive sleep apnea



Prevention 

Coronary artery diseases and cardiac arrest can be prevented by avoiding the factors that may increase the risk of getting them. Here are some measures that can prevent cardiac arrest are:


  • Smoking cessation

  • Blood pressure monitoring

  • Having a diet with low cholesterol levels

  • Exercising regularly

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Consuming fewer sugars and monitoring blood sugar levels for diabetes prevention

  • Taking measures to avoid mental stress



Conclusion 


Cardiac arrest is the condition in which your heart stops beating, leading to loss of breathing and loss of consciousness. It can occur due to various reasons like coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), valvular heart disease, congenital heart disease, and electrical problems in the heart. To prevent it, you must prevent coronary artery disease risk factors. 


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