An overview

If you believe heart attack and cardiac arrest is same, you are absolutely wrong as the symptoms and occurrence of both are different. However heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest.

What is cardiac arrest?
The heart stops pumping blood for the various requirements of the body in cardiac arrest. Therefore cardiac arrest is a sudden stop in effective blood flow due to the failure of the heart to contract effectively. It can be an unexpected and sudden loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. It may lead to sudden death without much intervention. A cardiac arrest can be immediate, drastic and without warning.

The major symptoms of cardiac arrest include:

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness
  • No normal breathing 
  • Stop in pulse

No normal breathing
As mentioned earlier, the heart stops pumping blood all of a sudden in cardiac arrest. The brain will be deprived of blood in a few seconds. The body will stop taking breath suddenly as the respiratory centre in the brain cannot work without oxygen. There will be a sudden lose in response from the person. The skin may show signs of paleness or bluishness.
Agonal respirations
Gasping for breath is also called agonal respirations. It is the abnormal breathing pattern as a reflex of the body to breathe after the heart stop functioning. The gasps can include strange sounds like groaning or snoring also. It will be sporadic but not effective. It is not equal to regular breathing and immediate medical support should be provided.
Signs similar to heart attack
One may experience certain signs of cardiac arrest before the actual arrival, which is similar to heart attack. It includes:

What causes cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart abruptly stops beating due to a various reasons. Mostly, cardiac arrest occurs because of the irregularity of heartbeat which is referred to as arrhythmia.
The immediate cause can be an irregularity with the electrical system of the heart and the heart has its own electrical stimulator. The possible causes of cardiac arrest include: 

  • Coronary artery disease: Mostly sudden cardiac arrest is due to coronary artery disease which is undiagnosed
  • Congenital heart diseas
  • Problems related to electrical system of the hear
  • Heart Valve related disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart attack
  • A failure in pacemaker
  • Structural or electrical changes in the hear
  • Hypothermia
  • Drowning 

You are at a higher risk of cardiac arrest if you have:

  • Respiratory disease
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Heavy smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol consumption at higher levels

Medical emergency 

 Cardiac arrest is a life

Cardiac arrest is a life-threatening emergency which needs medical attention within minutes. If someone gets a cardiac arrest, CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be given fast in order to save life. Each second counts as cardiac arrest can be reversible if medical care is sought at the earliest.

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