Cardiac arrest is also known as cardiopulmonary arrest, massive heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest or Heart arrest, and heart seizure. A cardiac arrest is the sudden stop of heart or developing a very abnormal heart rhythm, which prevents the heart to pump blood. Cardiac arrest is due to the heart's inefficiency to contract effectively during systole. Heart attack and cardiac arrest are not the same, even though a heart attack may lead to cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is also known as massive heart attack. During a heart attack the heart will beat, but in a cardiac arrest, the heart will stop beating suddenly. If a patient has undergone a cardiac arrest, there are only a few minutes left to treat the patient or else it results in sudden cardiac death.
Reasons for cardiac arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest is generally due to ventricular fibrillation, which is due to an existing heart disease. mainly coronary artery disease. Studies show that more than 80% of sudden cardiac arrests are due to coronary artery disease. Most people who have suffered from cardiac arrests also had previous heart attacks. Severe and constant bradyarrhythmias or slow heart rhythms, asystole and the malfunctioning of heart to react to normal electrical activity also result in sudden cardiac arrest. Less common cause of cardiac arrest is sustained ventricular tachycardia accompanied with low blood pressure. The heart muscles may rupture during or after heart attack causing sudden death in rare cases. The sudden stop of blood circulation prevents circulation of oxygen to different parts of the body and this lack of oxygen supply to the brain or cerebral hypoxia leads the victims to become unconscious, and stops normal breathing, but agonal breathing may still occur.
What should be done?
If cardiac arrest is not treated for more than five minutes, there is a probability of brain injury even though there are new treatments such as induced hypothermia can extend this time. An immediate response is necessary to improve the chances of survival and neurological recovery. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the primary first aid treatment for cardiac arrest. Until the patient gets medical help, cardiopulmonary resuscitation provides circulatory support that may vary according to the rhythm of the heart. But, most often needs defibrillation.
Sudden cardiac death occurs before six months of age is known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SCD is rare among children and adolescents above six months of age. The chances of having SCD increases after 45, because people are more likely to suffer heart- related diseases from that age. Men are more likely to have SCD than women between the age of 45 and 64. After the age of 75, the rate of occurring cardiac arrest is almost even in both the sex. Generally, the rate of SCD relates to the rate of coronary artery disease. The rate of SCD is more in blacks compared to the white, American Indian/ Alaskan native and Asian/Pacific islander populations. Lower rates of SCD are in Hispanic populations than non-Hispanic.
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