An Intro to Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is the medical term that defines the halting of the heart’s normal activity of transporting blood to all areas of the body. When a remedy is not applied quickly, death may occur within a short time.

Cardiac arrest can happen suddenly or after certain medical manifestations. It must be detected quickly. When it occurs, the victim may survive with minimal or no organ and tissue injury.

Cardiac arrest can happen due to a chain of certain influences. The principal origins of the ailment include atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is where the atria is deprived of regular flow action. An irregular heartbeat occurs when the sinoatrial node is unable to produce the electrical signal to initiate heart contractions.

Ventricular fibrillation is when the two lower chambers are derived from normal flow action. This deteriorates the blood supply mechanism of the heart. Blood transfer to vital organ systems is affected and, in certain instances, it may halt completely.

Between the two causes, ventricular fibrillation is the leading cause of most incidents of cardiac arrest. Since it is characterized by a quivering violent movement of the ventricles, blood transport occurs insufficiently.

In the US alone, about 370,000 incidents of the ailment occur within a year. These cases often occur away from a medical center or hospital. This means that many people may suffer an arrest when they are just going on with normal activities such as working, sleeping, and even traveling.

How Cardiac Arrest Varies When Compared to A Heart Attack

The majority of people within the globe believe a heart attack condition and cardiac arrest are identical in nature. This notion is far from the truth. Although both are serious medical ailments, they differ in severity and manifestations.

Sudden Cardiac arrest, as the name suggests, can happen when you least expect it. It interferes with the normal blood transport process or even stops it altogether. It can lead to death within seconds if prompt assistance is not provided.

A heart attack is an action that leads to a stoppage of blood transport to the heart. The term is applied to identify the event that causes a section of the heart’s muscle to begin perishing because of a deficiency of receiving blood.

A heart attack is brought about by circulatory complications, whereas cardiac arrest is brought about by electrical malfunctions in the natural pacemaker. This tissue conducts the generation of electrical impulses that influences the heart’s pace.

A heart attack can manifest with signs for a short or a long period and may vary in the intensity of pain. Cardiac arrest can happen abruptly, and a victim may be unconscious within a short time.

When a heart attack is left untreated for some time, it can likely lead to cardiac arrest. The latter condition often manifests alongside or following a heart attack. Having either of these conditions can raise the chances of the other happening.

Prevention Strategies & Risk Factors Tied to Cardiac Arrest

One adage says “prevention is better than cure.”

Nothing can be closer to the truth when it comes to cardiopulmonary arrest. Even if you manage to pull through such an event, you will probably have an organ or nerve damage that will drastically affect the overall quality of life.

When you really think about it, it is better to prevent cardiac arrest than to treat it. You can only avoid it by knowing how it is prevented as well as risk factors associated with it.

Risk factors that Predisposes a Person to Cardiac Arrest

Several risks will expose a person to sudden cardiac arrest. These elements can be natural or induced, depending on several factors. Here are some of the major risks that you should remember.

  1. Blood vessel complications.

Medical complications that affect vital blood vessels can escalate the probability of cardiac arrest. The vessels include the aorta in addition to the coronary artery. When they have any hitches, the heart may not perform as it would normally. It may even halt heart activity.

A Coronary artery ailment will also add to the risk of cardiac arrest. This complication is used to identify any issues that are linked to the artery— such as whether they have an irregular shape or size.

The primary work of the coronary artery is to send oxygenated blood within the heart tissue. Anomalies in the artery may affect oxygen supply.

The adrenaline hormone may set off the beginning of sudden cardiac arrest. This may occur during extreme physical work or even as an aftermath of a traumatic or exciting occurrence. When you have such medical conditions, you may be at the risk of experiencing cardiac arrest.

  • Use of Certain Prescription Drugs

In recent years it has been noted that prescription drugs that affect the heart play a major role in causing cardiac arrest.Medicine that affects the potassium ion as well as magnesium ion levels can result in the irregular rhythm of the heart.

This mostly happens when people use medicine that helps to remedy arrhythmias—a condition where the heart experiences abnormal heartbeat rhythm. These medications may promote irregular rhythm even when used as prescribed.

  • The Age of the Individual

It may come as a surprise to many, but age is a risk when it comes to cardiac arrest. Scientists have noted that cases of cardiopulmonary arrest occur more often as a person increases in age.

As you get older, the probability of suffering a cardiac arrest gets higher. This is the risk factor that no one can avoid.

  • Drugs Abuse.

Excessive use of certain recreational drugs, including cigarettes and cocaine, can deteriorate the heart’s health. Cocaine is especially known to induce arrhythmia by causing blockage of ion channels that affect the left ventricle.

Cigarette smoke contains synthetic components and irritants that escalate the chances of getting cardiac complications. Smoking leads to the creation of blockages within blood vessels, which will cause arrhythmia if left untreated.

When drug use and a sedentary lifestyle is the norm, it is very likely to suffer sudden cardiac arrest. This risk may vary in various individuals depending on other factors such as genetics.

  • Previous Incidences of Heart attacks or Cardiac Arrest

Experiencing a cardiac attack or arrest may escalate the threat of having a subsequent cardiac ailment. There is a 74% chance that a person may suffer cardiac arrest when they experience a heart attack.


After understanding the probabilities that may predispose you to sudden cardiac arrest, the next step is learning how to avoid them. Depending on the probability associated, several prevention measures can be put in place to avert such medical crises.

Here are some of known ways to can avoid suffering a cardiac arrest.

  1. Regular Check-Ups.

This is the best prevention option you have. When you get regular heart examinations, it is possible to detect issues that may cause cardiac arrest. These examinations are recommended, especially for people with a genetic history of heritable heart diseases.

Screening also allows for early detection and treatment of any heart complications. It will halt the progress of heart ailments that may lead to arrhythmia. This way, you can live a normal life even with such complications.

  • Change your Lifestyle.

Studies have noted that many incidents of sudden cardiac arrest are lifestyle-related. This means that many people suffer this ailment because of how they live their everyday lives.

Lifestyle trends such as smoking and the use of recreational drug should be reduced and, if possible, stopped completely. It does not stop there; you should also ensure you have a healthy body mass index. Obese people have a higher chance of suffering attacks.

Ensure you eat healthy. During meals, prioritize healthy foods such as vegetables and whole grains. Avoid things that contain saturated fats as well as high levels of sodium.

It is also vital to be physically active to avoid cardiac arrest. Although extreme physical exercises are known to cause heart issues, it accounts for about 5% of all cases. You don’t have to commit to a gym schedule, you can just ensure that you work out at least three times a week.

  • Follow Prescriptions as Instructed by a Qualified Doctor or Pharmacist.

This advice is mostly for people who are on medication that helps to treat their heart-related ailments. You must ensure you follow the recommended dosage as prescribed by the pharmacist. Taking an under or overdose may put you at risk.

Some people tend to stop taking medications when they start feeling relief— which is not advisable. Ensure you finish the entire dosage as instructed and visit a qualified cardiologist to confirm if you need a new dose.

  • Consider the Implantable Cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) Option.

In case you’ve had a cardiac arrest incident some time back, you are at a high likelihood of suffering another one. To prevent this, a surgeon may suggest that you get an ICD. This device decreases the possibility a sudden cardiac arrest victim passing away because of a subsequent cardiac arrest.

The device works by observing the heartbeat pattern. When an irregular pattern is detected, the machine delivers an electric pulse to the heart to reestablish natural flow action.

The best advantage of using such a defibrillator is that it may serve as a preventive and therapeutic measure. When it comes to cardiac arrest, these two elements can greatly help increase the quality of life.

  • Undergo a Cardiac Catheter Ablation Operation.

Catheter ablation is an operation that utilizes energy to make a mark that resembles a scar. This cicatrix formed on the heart tissue assists in preventing irregular electrical stimulations from traversing the heart. This process applied to individuals who have damaged heart tissue.

There two primary forms of the procedure. They include cryoablation and radiofrequency ablation. Cryoablation utilizes freezing temperatures to conduct the process of inducing scars. Radiofrequency ablation employs a frequency signal that contains vast amounts of energy in the process of ablation.

The scar tissue that is created as a result of the process acts as an electric insulator. It prevents the transfer of electrical signals to the part of the heart that may be damaged or injured. This way, arrhythmias activity does not occur, and cardiac arrest is prevented before it can occur.

The Warning Signs that Indicate a Heart attack or Cardiac Arrest is Happening

Many times people confuse cardiopulmonary arrest and heart attacks. It is essential that the two separate manifestations to know how you can help a victim appropriately.

Heart attacks cause discomfort in various parts of the upper body. This may occur on the arms, neck, or even the upper back. Cardiac arrest is characterized by the abrupt loss of consciousness. A person fails to respond when you call, touch or tap them.

A primary indicator of a cardiac arrest is abnormal agonal breathing. This is characterized by a gasping form of respiration or labored breathing. Heart attack, on the other hand comes with a pain in the chest area as well as shoulder and neck discomfort.

Other manifestations of a heart attack condition include nausea, a sensation of releasing cold sweat as well dizziness. Cardiac arrest causes a feeling of general body weakness together with pronounced palpitations.

If you or another person experiences any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as fast as possible. You should call 911 and request an ambulance. If you can’t do that, then you should ask someone else to do it on your behalf.

Emergency Treatment & Therapies for Cardiac Arrest

Suppose you are in a particular location, a stranger near you suddenly collapses and you suspect it is cardiac arrest, what should you do? What is the best way to handle the situation?

The first step to take when a person has a cardiac arrest is to check the environment to analyze its safety levels. If there is a hazard that can put both your lives at peril, it is best to move the person gently to a secure location.

The second thing you should do is to contact emergency service providers through 911. For this step, you can ask someone nearby to call the emergency response services. This way, you can have the chance to check on the victim and see if they are responsive or not and whether they are breathing.

After you have carried out the above steps, then you can try to assist the person with procedures like CPR. This is an important step because it can prevent or cause death or permanent brain damage.

Here are the main emergency life-saving techniques that you can use when a person has a cardiac arrest.

  1. Using an automated external defibrillator (AED).

These are portable defibrillators that can be used to reestablish a normal heart rhythm. It functions by sending an appropriate electric shock to the heart. This helps to treat or prevent arrhythmia when the heart is beating either quickly or slowly.

The shock is generated by a battery within the machine. It is transmitted to the heart through specific electrodes that are placed on the victim’s chest.  This way, the machine can interpret the heartbeat and send an appropriate feedback impulse that can help stop the cardiac arrest.

There are various variants of defibrillators that are used in different medical conditions. These devices are often found in public places such as malls. They were invented to help save a person suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest.

The portable defibrillators come with instructions on how they can be used to save a life. An untrained bystander can be able to utilize this machine without prior proper experience. This is because it comes with a straight-to-the-point user manual on how to operate it.

These automated external defibrillators can be used on people of almost all ages. But before you use this tool, confirm if it is a cardiac arrest emergency by checking for the right signs.

Quickly locate the AED device and go through the instructions on how to operate it carefully. The device gives also instructions on how to deliver the electrical charge. You may also be requested to provide more than one shock, depending on the situation.

The AED manufacturer may advise you to apply immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation after using it. Make sure you are ready and prepared to conduct CPR. When the emergency service providers arrive, ensure you notify them that you used an automated external defibrillator on the victim.

In case you face any difficulties using an automated external defibrillator, you can seek assistance from a next bystander. If the device doesn’t work well or results in an injury, you can file a complaint. This process can be done online at the FDA website or at the MedWatch website.

  • Applying Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is a form of emergency first aid for cardiac arrest victims. It is applied to a person who is unresponsive and has agonal breathing. This form of respiration is not correct breathing since it does not supply enough oxygen to vital organs such as the brain.

When it comes to giving CPR, time is a crucial factor. It should begin as soon as possible until the paramedics arrive or the victim regains consciousness.  Remember, seconds can determine if a person will survive or not.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation works by restarting the natural process of blood transport in the circulatory system. This allows for oxygenated blood to reach essential organ systems.

CPR first aid employs the use of chest compressions as well as mouth to nose/mouth assisted breathing. Chest compressions should be used by people who are unskilled or lack confidence in their CPR skills.

Compressions help to restart the action of blood circulation. This is applied by laying the victim on their back.

Next, the lifesaver should by interlock fingers and press on the sternum area up to two inches inside. The pressure is then released to allow the chest to rise. The compressions should go on uninterrupted and include almost a hundred pushes per minute.

If you’ve trained on CPR and trust your skills, then you can conduct chest compressions as well as mouth to mouth/nose. You should never perform mouth to mouth if you don’t have the knowledge of how it is done right.

Mouth to mouth rescue breathing begins by first tilting the head of the victim back to open the airway. The nose is then sealed shut by using a pinching motion of the fingers. A deep breath is applied through the victim’s mouth.

Once the chest cavity rises, the chest is allowed to deflate, and chest compressions should resumed immediately. The ratio of chest compressions to assisted breaths should be 30:2. You should continue with CPR until you see positive feedback like coughing, normal breathing, or help arrives.

In a nutshell

Cardiac arrest is life-threatening condition that scares everyone. The best way to avoid it is by taking proper prevention measures. It may affect the quality of your life and lead to unexpected costs when it comes to treatment. Never say it’s too early to change your lifestyle or see a doctor.

Even if you are not at risk of having a cardiac arrest, it is still advised to go for regular checkups. You can also take a CPR certification course. This way, you can be able to help out if a person near you gets a cardiac arrest.

If you have heart complications, make sure you get appropriate treatment. With proper medical attention, you can live a long healthy life. Don’t forget your friends and family, make sure they understand your condition so that they can assist you in case of a sudden cardiac arrest incident.