Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Heart Diseases

Sudden cardiac arrest is the condition when heart suddenly stops to function, consciousness or breathing. Sudden cardiac arrest strikes due to electrical disturbance in the heart that affects the pumping function of the heart and the supply of blood to rest of the body affects.

Sudden cardiac arrest is not like heart attack in which some part of the heart is blocked and heart muscles in that region are deprived of required oxygen. However, the cause of sudden cardiac arrest is just like heart attack – it occur in the context of problems with the heart especially CAD.

Sudden cardiac arrest is an emergency that occurs suddenly and in case immediate treatment is not provided to the patient sudden cardiac death can result. Swift and proper medication can cure the patient so the survival can be ensured. Administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and swift compression to the chest can improve the chances of survival before the arrival of physician.

Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest

The symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest are very sudden and drastic. Sudden collapse, no pulse, loss of consciousness and no breathing are the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest. Other signs and symptoms can also accompany sudden cardiac arrest such as dizziness, chest pain, blackouts, fainting, fatigue, palpitations, vomiting and shortness of breath. It occurs at times with no warning.

Causes of sudden cardiac arrest

The immediate reason of sudden cardiac arrest is the abnormality of heart rhythm that is caused due to the malfunction of the electrical system of one’s heart.

Heart is different from other organs of body as the body depends on the nerve connections for the reception of electrical stimulation where heart has its own electrical stimulator – a special group of cells named as sinus node that are located in the right atrium (the upper right chamber) of the heart. The electrical impulse is generated by the sinus node and synchronizes the heart rate with the pumping of the blood from the heart to the body.

Commonly sudden cardiac arrest is caused by an arrhythmia known as ventricular fibrillation. In ventricular fibrillation erratic and rapid electrical impulses quiver the ventricle instead of pumping blood. Blood pressure starts to plummets in the absence of effective heartbeat, and supply of blood to vital organ halts.
Many times the heart arrhythmia develops in a person that already has certain heart condition for example:

More than 80 per cent cases of sudden cardiac arrest occur in the people that have coronary artery disease.
In case someone has suffered from heart attack due to coronary artery disease that can initiate ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac arrest. Moreover, as a result of heart attack dead scar tissues are left behind that can initiate sudden cardiac arrest due to arrhythmia.

Cardiomyopathy, enlarged heart is also a vital cause of sudden cardiac arrest. This happens when the muscular wall of heart is stretched and enlarges or becomes thick. A condition when muscles of heart strats to function abnormally and damage the heart tissues and result in heart arrhythmia.

Heart muscles can be stretched or thickened or both if there is any leakage or narrowing in one’s heart valves. The risk of developing arrhythmia increases in case chambers of heart becomes enlarge or weak due to the stress triggered by the leakage or the tightening of the valves.

Congenital heart disease is the condition of heart that exists since birth. It can be a cause of sudden cardiac arrest in most of the children and adolescents. It is a genetic disorder and the most common reason of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes. Vigorous exertion is considered to be a reason of sudden cardiac arrest in athletes but the situation is not yet clear.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs in some people not because of their heart muscles or valves but because of problems with the electrical system of their valves, commonly known as primary heart rhythm abnormalities.

Risk factors

Sudden cardiac arrest is very close to coronary artery disease and caused by almost all those reasons or risk factors that increase the risk of coronary artery disease. For example the risk factors of sudden cardiac arrests are:

  • A family history of CAD
  • Smoking
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary life style

There are other vital factors that are responsible for sudden cardiac arrests such as:

  • Family history of cardiac arrest or previous sudden cardiac attack
  • A previous heart attack
  • A family history of multi-heart diseases such as congenital heart defecta, heart rhythm disorder, cardiomyopathy and heart failure
  • In men after the age of 45 and in women after the age of 55 the risk of having sudden cardiac arrest increases
    Males are two to three times more vulnerable to suffer from sudden cardiac arrest than women
  • The use of illegal drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines
  • The strike of lightening or other electrical shocks
  • Immersion in cold water

Healthy life can save one from sudden cardiac arrest and other related diseases of heart and its malfunctioning. Exercise is good for the health but over excursion can lead to catastrophic results.