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Know what is cardiac arrest and how is it different from heart attack

To reduce the chances of cardiac arrests, its important to identify people with high-risk factors and bring as many lifestyle changes as possible.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 9, 2019 1:58:01 pm
cardiac arrest, indianexress.com, indianexpress, sushma swaraj, work, stress, heart attack, stroke, diabetes Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are immediate and drastic with sudden collapse, no pulse, no breathing and loss of consciousness. (Source: File Photo)

Sushma Swaraj, the political stalwart who passed away on Tuesday died of sudden cardiac arrest. The senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi around 9:30 pm after she complained of restlessness. Swaraj, who was a diabetic, had undergone a kidney transplant in December 2016. Though the leader was suffering from kidney issues and diabetes for a while, the untimely death raises concerns over how cardiac arrests are becoming common these days.

What is a cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrests can occur suddenly without any sort of warning. They are triggered by the electrical malfunctioning in the heart that causes the heart to beat irregularly. A cardiac arrest occurs because of rapid heartbeat called as Ventricular Tachycardia or Ventricular Fibrillation, but at times can be due to extreme slowing of heart rate, which ultimately leads to stopping of heartbeats.

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How is a cardiac arrest caused?

Cardiac arrests can be due to heart-related cause’s i.e. Coronary Heart Disease, Heart Attack, Cardiomyopathy, valve problems and abnormal heart rhythm. But it can be unrelated to heart disease too as it might be caused by electrocution, drug overdose, severe haemorrhage, losing a large amount of blood and drowning.

What are the signs?

Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are immediate and drastic with sudden collapse, no pulse, no breathing and loss of consciousness. Other signs also include blackouts, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, palpitations, fatigue or vomiting.

Are cardiac arrest and heart attack same?

Often considered the same, heart attack and cardiac arrest are two separate circumstances. Heart attack is one of the many factors that can cause cardiac arrest. When it comes to a heart attack, the patient’s heart loses the ability to pump blood only partially and continues with lower efficiency allowing the first hour for medical aid. But during a cardiac arrest, the heart stops functioning owing to issues in the electrical system of the heart that disrupts the pumping ability. This results in the ceasing of blood flow to brain and other body parts, hence the person needs medical assistance even before an hour. So the golden minutes become very decisive in a cardiac arrest that demands quick action and can occur without warning.

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What is the emergency treatment for a cardiac arrest?

If a sudden cardiac arrest happens, the patient is declared clinically dead but Dr Monik Mehta, chief of cardiology, Columbia Asia Hospital tells indianexpress.com that giving Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to the patient immediately before emergency help is available in such a case is the only possible way to revive the patient.

How to perform CPR?

cardiac arrest, indianexress.com, indianexpress, sushma swaraj, work, stress, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, CPR,Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Push hard and fast on the person’s chest — about 100 compressions a minute while performing CPR. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Push hard and fast on the person’s chest — about 100 compressions a minute. If you are trained in CPR, check the person’s airway and deliver rescue breaths after every 30 compressions. If you haven’t been trained, just continue chest compressions. Allow the chest to rise completely between compressions. Keep doing this until a portable defibrillator is available or emergency personnel arrive.

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How to prevent cardiac arrest?

It’s important to identify people with high-risk factors and bring as many lifestyle changes as possible, advises Dr Mehta. Consider this – People with diabetes also have a greater chance of developing heart disease at a younger age than those without the condition. This means the longer you have the condition (and the less controlled your blood sugar), the higher the risk of developing heart disease. In adults with diabetes, heart disease and stroke are the most common cause of death. It has been shown that adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those without the disease.

He also says that common people should also keep track of their health through regular check-ups.

Dr Mehta, who has saved many lives on flights through CPR, says the only other way is to create awareness about CPR and the proper way to do it.

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