Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of cardiac function in a person that may or may not have heart disease. It can appear suddenly or as a result of other symptoms. Cardiac arrest is frequently fatal if instant action is not taken. Cardiac arrest can occur when electrical impulses go awry, resulting in an irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia. Arrhythmias come in a variety of forms, the majority of which are not dangerous. The most common cause of cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. If this occurs, your heart will be unable to pump enough blood to your body. Within minutes, that becomes life-threatening.
It’s different from a Heart attack
While a heart attack can result in cardiac arrest, the two are not the same thing. A blockage that prevents blood flow to the heart causes heart attacks. A heart attack is the death of heart muscle tissue as a result of a lack of blood supply. It’s a “circulation” issue. A heart attack is a serious condition that can be fatal.
A cardiac arrest, on the other hand, occurs when the heart’s electrical system fails. The heart ceases to beat normally. The heart’s pumping function has been “arrested,” or halted. A heart attack is a plumbing issue, whereas cardiac arrest is an electrical problem.
Cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and dramatically: you collapse, lose consciousness, have no pulse, and are not breathing. You may feel exhausted, dizzy, faint, short of breath, or sick to your stomach just before it happens. You may pass out or experience chest pain.
When Sudden Cardiac Arrest occurs in otherwise healthy young people, there is usually no obvious injury or medical reason that the patient or family was aware of. Some young adults with SCA may have actually encountered heart-related symptoms like breathing difficulties, chest pain, or fainting that were not considered life-threatening. Others had no symptoms of a heart problem.
Many of these deaths occur without warning; signs to look for include:
- Unknown cause of fainting (syncope). If this happens while you’re exercising, it could be a sign that your heart isn’t working properly.
- There is a history of sudden cardiac death in the family. A family history of unexplained deaths prior to the age of 50 is another major red flag. If this has happened in your family, speak with your doctor.
Causes of Cardiac Arrest
Although not all causes of sudden cardiac arrest in children and adolescents are known, they may include:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Muscle cells in the heart’s lower chambers, known as ventricles, thicken, which is usually inherited and frequently goes undiagnosed. This can result in abnormal heart rhythms, particularly during exercise. Other types of paediatric cardiomyopathy could also be involved.
- Abnormalities in the coronary arteries. Abnormalities in the way the coronary arteries connect to the heart can lead to reduced blood flow to the heart muscle during activity and cause cardiac arrest. Young people with coronary artery abnormalities are usually born with them, but they may not show any symptoms until they are older.
- Arrhythmias that occur on their own. Undiagnosed genetic conditions that affect the heart’s electrical impulses can sometimes cause sudden cardiac arrest in people with structurally normal hearts.
- Myocarditis. Myocarditis, which is usually caused by an infection, means that the heart’s walls are inflamed. The majority of myocarditis cases in children occur when a virus, such as an enterovirus, enters the heart.
- Type 2 diabetes: The following factors contribute to type 2 diabetes:
- Dietary choices, such as exposure to and access to ultra-processed foods.
- Body mass index (BMI) and obesity.
- A sedentary behaviour with less physical activity.
Primary prevention also entails learning about the behaviours that put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. These are some examples:
- Poor diet and lack of exercise.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Family history of cardiovascular disease.
So if you’ve any of these conditions, you must manage them through lifestyle changes or meds.
You should avoid oily, high-cholesterol, sugary, and carbohydrate-rich foods for the sake of your heart. These foods raise your bad cholesterol levels, clogging your arteries and impairing blood flow.
Instead, eat a heart-healthy diet rich in your favourite fruits and vegetables. Emotional stress is a significant risk factor for cardiac arrest. As a result, avoiding stressful situations and focusing on relaxation can help reduce your chances of having a cardiac arrest. Take it a step further and find a way to relieve stress by practising deep breathing techniques and/or yoga.