Health Minute: Heart Health Month Part 2
What is cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest is a condition where the lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles, suddenly go into an electrical storm, termed ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. Essentially the heart beats so rapidly that it is unable to pump blood. Patients with cardiac arrest will pass out, termed syncope, because the heart has stopped contracting. The patient will stop breathing and be without a pulse. If the normal pulse is not restored promptly the patient will begin to experience damage to all their vital organs especially the brain.
Could you explain some of the symptoms to lookout for?
- Unexplained fainting/syncope, especially when it occurs with exertion
- Rapid or irregular palpitations
- A family history of sudden cardiac arrest/or unexplained syncope at a young age
How can you limit your risk of cardiac arrest?
Prevention of coronary artery disease and heart attacks,
- Focus on a healthy weight
- Exercise Regularly
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Reduce stress
- Balanced Diet
If you have concerning symptoms discuss them with your doctor and you probably will need to be evaluated by a cardiologist
If you have a weak heart, known as a cardiomyopathy, possibly from a prior heart attack, you may need to be referred to a cardiac electrophysiologist, like myself, to determine if a defibrillator should be implanted.
What to do if someone is in cardiac arrest?
The most important thing to do during cardiac arrest is to begin CPR and defibrillate the pt as quickly as possible back to normal rhythm thereby restoring the normal pumping of the heart. If you see someone pass out, immediately check for a pulse and if none is found begin hands-only CPR, no need for breaths. CPR should be done at around 100 bpm, and the cadence of the old Bee Gees’s song “Stayin’ Alive” works great. Immediately call for an AED if in public and call 9-1-1.
If an AED is available, continue CPR and have someone turn the AED on and the voice commands will easily walk you thru the steps of defibrillating the patient. The quicker the patient is defibrillated the greater the chance of survival is.
What are the differences between heart attack and cardiac arrest?
A heart attack is the sudden obstruction of blood flow in one’s coronary arteries that supply the heart, usually triggered by the rupture of unstable cholesterol plaque. Cardiac arrest as mentioned earlier is an electrical storm. It is common to be confused about the differences between the two as the most common reason someone will experience sudden cardiac arrest is from a heart attack. During a heart attack, when the heart is suddenly deprived of blood flow the cells may become irritable and electrically unstable and can lead to cardiac arrest. Often it will be assumed that someone had a heart attack that led to their sudden death, but this often is not the case. Unfortunately, there are many other reasons why one can have cardiac arrest. Through cardiac evaluation we can limit or
To learn your risk for heart disease, take our free and easy online risk assessment at AdventistHealthCare.com/LoveYourHeart.