Cardiac arrest is the loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness resulting from an electrical disturbance in the heart. The event, which is often mistaken for a heart attack, disrupts the pumping action of the heart, which slows or stops blood flow to the rest of the body. When the heart stops, the lack of oxygen-rich blood can cause brain damage. If not treated immediately, they can lead to death or permanent brain damage in four to six minutes.
A heart attack occurs when something blocks blood flow to a portion of the heart. While this is not yet cardiac arrest, a heart attack can trigger a disturbance in the pumping action of the heart which may lead to the more serious event. People experiencing frequent chest pains, dizzy spells, heart palpitations, or shortness of breath should not ignore these symptoms and should seek medical attention promptly.
Cardiac arrhythmia can cause either a more rapid or a slower heartbeat. The heart may become incapable of pumping sufficient blood to parts of the body. Some cardiac arrhythmia can be life-threatening and lead to cardiac arrest. Doctors often run stress tests or echocardiograms on people with arrhythmia, to find the source. Most of the time, a prescribed medication brings the condition under control.
A heart that is scarred or enlarged from a previous heart attack is prone to developing life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia, leading to cardiac arrest. The first six months after a heart attack represents a high-risk period for sudden cardiac arrest, especially in patients with atherosclerotic heart disease. Medications or angioplasty can treat atherosclerotic heart disease.
When your body experiences heat stroke, it loses fluids and electrolytes at an alarming rate. A large amount of fluid loss can lead to low blood volume and dangerously low blood pressure. Electrolyte imbalance in the body causes irregularity in heart function, which can, in turn, cause cardiac arrest. On extremely hot and humid days, stay hydrated, minimize sun exposure, and keep strenuous activity to a minimum.
People who take heart medication are at risk for cardiac arrhythmias and significant changes in potassium and magnesium levels in the blood. Heart medications contain diuretics focused on removing toxins in the blood, but sometimes important nutrients such as potassium and magnesium are expelled as well. Doctors often prompt individuals on these medications to ensure their diets contain more potassium and magnesium.
A person in cardiac arrest is likely unable to breathe on their own or will be wheezing or gasping for air. Someone in such distress should have their airways checked to make sure nothing is blocking them. Trained individuals should administer CPR to individuals who cannot breathe on their own, and 9-1-1 should be called immediately.
Once emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene, and the person is stabilized, an automated external defibrillator (AED) will check the patient's heart rhythm. If the rhythm is still abnormal, the device will send an electric shock to the heart to try and restore a normal rhythm.
Prevent it by keeping your doctor's appointments. This is especially essential for individuals who have had past heart attacks or any type of heart disease. Sticking to a heart-healthy diet and generally living a healthy lifestyle will also go a long way.
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