we lost prominent personalities like former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu J. Jayalalitha and late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to this fatal
condition. However, awareness about what happens during a cardiac arrest or
what to do when someone succumbs to it, has still not caught on in India. The steps that we
take right after a cardiac arrest occurs, decides if the person will live or die.
‘Steps taken immediately following a cardiac arrest could save a persons life.’
cardiac death can occur within minutes of a cardiac arrest, if it is not managed
immediately. Survival depends on providing immediate
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), using a defibrillator to give an electric
giving chest compressions.
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping or
A series of events follow quickly - blood supply from the heart to the
brain and vital organs get reduced, there is a loss of heart function,
breathing stops and the person becomes unconscious.
to statistics, more than eighty percent of cardiac arrests take place outside
of a hospital - either at work, on the road or at home. Survival rate drops by seven percent with every
minute of delay in not performing CPR. Hence, it is vital to provide
effective CPR to improve chances of survival before medical help arrives.
Learning the basics of CPR can help save lives at home and at public places.
What makes our heart flutter?
our lifetime, our heart beats non-stop, pumping blood continuously. Even when
we suffer a heart attack, the pumping of blood does not stop.
When there is a change in our regular heartbeat, it is known as arrhythmia
Other names for arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats, fluttering, and
disruption in the flow of the electrical impulses through the heart causes
arrhythmias. The heart ends up beating either slowly or fast or irregularly.
a person suffers from arrhythmia or palpitations of the heart for a prolonged
time, they are at very high risk of cardiac arrest. Arrhythmias are the leading risk factors for cardiac
Risk factors other than arrhythmias for cardiac arrest
- Medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high
- Lifestyle factors like obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and
- Previous episodes of cardiac arrests or heart attacks
- Family history of cardiac arrests or other heart disorders like
heart rhythm disorders, congenital heart defects, heart failure and
- Old age
- Gender - men have three times a lifetime risk than women below the
age of 85
- Electric shock
- Use of illegal drugs (cocaine or amphetamines)
- Imbalance of essential nutrients like potassium or magnesium
- Trauma to the chest as a result of a direct blow to the area over
the heart. This is called commotio cordis and must occur at a critical
time during the heartbeat cycle to cause the cardiac arrest
What are the
Symptoms and Signs of Cardiac Arrest?
case of a cardiac arrest
, the individual becomes unconscious without warning
and collapses suddenly.
usual signs are -
- Lack of palpable pulse (a condition where the pulse cannot be
- Abnormal or Absent Breathing
An even better way
is to prevent a cardiac arrest by knowing the symptoms of an irregular
heartbeat that could trigger it -
- Fatigue and weakness
- Fluttering in the chest or irregular heartbeats under normal
- Dizziness and fainting
- Chest pain, palpitations and shortness of breath
- Sweating, confusion
Hence, when these
symptoms occur, it is imperative to take the patient immediately to a cardiac
specialist who will determine whether the arrhythmia is dangerous or not. With
due medications (that keep risk factors at bay), increased physical activity,
certain dietary changes, periodic monitoring of pulse, and managing stress a
person can continue to live with a healthy heart.
But in the event of a cardiac
arrest outside a hospital in India, it is crucial that the lay public be
educated on basic CPR to improve survival rates
. References :
- Guard yourself against sudden cardiac arrest: Beware of palpitations - (http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/guard-yourself-against-sudden-cardiac-arrest-beware-of-palpitations-118021700778_1.html)