Cardiac arrest

Chest | Cardiology | Cardiac arrest (Disease)


Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of cardiac function, when the heart abruptly stops beating, which may be fatal. Sudden cardiac arrest usually results from an electrical disturbance in your heart that disrupts its pumping action, stopping blood flow to the rest of your body. A cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack, where blood flow to the muscle of the heart is impaired, but may be caused by it.

Sudden cardiac arrest often occurs with no warning, but sometimes, other signs and symptoms precede sudden cardiac arrest: fatigue, fainting, dizziness, chest pain, weakness, palpitations or vomiting.

Causes and Risk factors

Ventricular fibrillation is the most common cause of cardiac arrest. Ventricular fibrillation may occur suddenly in people with coronary artery disease, for which lifestyle factors such as smoking and a high-fat diet increase the risk. A life-threatening arrhythmia develops in a person with a pre-existing heart condition, such as: coronary artery disease, heart attack, enlarged heart called Cardiomyopathy, Valvular heart disease, Congenital heart disease, electrical problems in the heart.

The same factors that put a risk of coronary artery disease may also put a risk of sudden cardiac arrest. These include: a family history of coronary artery disease; smoking; high blood pressure; high blood cholesterol; obesity and diabetes; a sedentary lifestyle and drinking too much alcohol. Within seconds of a cardiac arrest, these symptoms usually occur: collapse, loss of consciousness, blue lips, fingers, and toes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A cardiac arrest is usually diagnosed clinically by the absence of a pulse. Survive after a sudden cardiac arrest implies some investigations such as: electrocardiogram (ECG), blood tests and imaging test (chest x-ray, echocardiogram). Sudden cardiac arrest requires immediate action for survival: cardiopulmonary resuscitation, defibrillation.

For people at risk of heart disease, measures of prevention such as blood pressure control, cholesterol lowering, and other medico-therapeutic interventions are used. ...