What is Cardiac Arrest: Are You at Risk?

Nowadays, heart diseases have become one of the prime reason of increasing mortality rate. Heart is a significant organ that provides blood to entire body. Therefore, any defect in heart can lead to life-threatening condition. Medical professionals blame sedentary lifestyle and improper eating habits for the rising prevalence of cardiovascular problems.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is a critical condition which occurs due to a sudden loss of functioning of heart. This condition mostly happens due to malfunctioning of heart’s electrical system. During a cardiac arrest, patient’s heart stops suddenly and fails to provide oxygenated blood to other body parts. It results in death if not treated immediately within a few minutes. Cardiac arrest should not be mistaken as a heart attack. A heart attack causes restricted flow of blood to patient’s heart which may or may not lead to death while a cardiac arrest stops complete pumping action of heart leading to death if not treated promptly.

Causes of Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest may result due to a condition called as ventricular fibrillation. Patients suffering from ventricular fibrillation experience irregularity in heart rhythm. It adversely affects the functioning of heart and limits the flow of blood in patient’s body. Patients lose consciousness when flow of blood to the brain decreases. Immediate medical help should be given to patients for saving their life. Presence of the following heart disorders may accelerate the condition of ventricular fibrillation.

Risk Factors Associated with Cardiac Arrest

Major risk factors linked to cardiac arrest are described as follows.

  • Age Factor – Chance of cardiac arrest rises as one age.
  • Sex – Men are at a higher risk of experiencing a cardiac arrest as compared to women.
  • Family History of Heart Diseases – Patients with a family history of heart diseases like arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy especially coronary artery disease are more likely to suffer from a cardiac arrest.
  • Habit of Smoking – Habit of smoking increases the chances of a sudden cardiac arrest.
  • High blood pressure or Hypertension – Patients suffering from hypertension are more prone to experience a cardiac arrest.
  • High Cholesterol – Obese people with high cholesterol levels may fall prey to cardiac arrest.
  • Diabetes – Diabetes doubles up the chances of occurrence of a sudden cardiac arrest. Patients should regularly check their sugar levels to stay healthy.
  • Alcohol – Patients who consume an excessive amount of alcohol are likely to experience an episode of cardiac arrest.
  • Drug Abuse – Patients who consume illegal drugs like cocaine or amphetamines may get a cardiac arrest.

Signs & Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

The following list depicts some of the major signs and symptoms of a cardiac arrest.

  • No pulse rate
  • No breathing
  • Sudden collapse
  • Loss of consciousness

In several instances, it has been observed that patients may also experience the given symptoms.

  • Dizziness or extreme weakness
  • Severe pain in chest
  • Fatigue
  • Blackouts
  • Palpitations and vomiting

However, sudden cardiac arrest mostly occurs without any significant indication.

Diagnosing Heart Diseases That Lead To Cardiac Arrest

Surgeons may recommend the following imaging tests to determine the underlying heart disorders. This step can significantly help to minimize the chances of cardiac arrest in future.

  • Chest X-Ray – Chest x-ray test can be used to evaluate the severity of heart disease. It produces detailed images of heart and surrounding tissues which enable the cardiac surgeon to plan an appropriate treatment.
  • Electrocardiogram Test (ECG) – This test precisely evaluates electrical activity of patient’s heart. It also helps respective cardiologist to access patient’s heartbeat rate and rhythm.
  • Echocardiogram Test – Also called as an ‘echo’, an echocardiogram test is a significant imaging test performed to identify exact status of heart. It uses ultrasound waves for detecting valve abnormalities and determining pumping efficiency of patient’s heart. Surgeons can monitor internal region of patient’s heart by observing live images of heart generated by sound waves on a screen.
  • Coronary Catheterization Test – This test involves using a thin tube-like instrument called as a catheter to check underlying heart disorders. It is known to provide accurate results.
  • Ejection Fraction Testing – Ejection fraction can be defined as ratio of blood which is pumped out of a ventricle per heartbeat. Any abnormality in ejection fraction increases the possibility of a sudden cardiac arrest. Normally, ejection fraction must be 50 to 70 %. Patients can get a sudden cardiac arrest if this ratio lowers down below 40 %. Main objective of ejection fraction testing is to determine pumping efficiency of patient’s heart. It can be performed with the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or computerized tomography scan (CT scan) method.

In addition to these tests, cardiologists may also suggest some blood tests for confirming the diagnosis.

Preparing for Treatment of Heart Diseases

Severe cardiovascular diseases raise the chances of getting a cardiac arrest. Therefore, patients should promptly take an appointment with well-experienced cardiologists to avoid this fatal problem in future. They should take care of the following things.

  • Precise List of Symptoms – Patients should make a note of symptoms they have experienced in the past or experiencing currently.
  • Medicines And Drugs – It is important to discuss regarding the medications and drugs that patients consume routinely.
  • Diet & Lifestyle – Patients should be willing to reveal the food they eat as well as their lifestyle behaviors.
  • Questions – Patients may prepare a list of questions to ask respective heart specialists for clearing their treatment-related doubts.

Important Questions to Ask Heart Specialist or Cardiologist about Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Patients may ask the enumerated questions to cardiologists for evaluating their risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

  • What is a cardiac arrest? Is it similar to a heart attack?
  • What is my current health status? Am I at a risk of getting a cardiac arrest?
  • What measures can we take to minimize the risk of cardiac arrest?
  • Is my ejection fraction (EF) normal?
  • Will lifestyle modifications and dietary changes help?
  • Will I benefit from medications and drugs?
  • What are the available treatment options? What treatment is best for me?
  • How can I manage my heart’s health condition?
  • Can you suggest any informative website where I can learn more about cardiac arrest?

Patients should freely communicate with the heart specialist and understand their suitable treatment options.

Treatment Options for Cardiac Arrest

The following are the main treatment options for cardiac arrest.

  • Emergency Treatment for Cardiac Arrest – In case of an emergency, patients must be provided an immediate medical help. Defibrillator treatment procedure can significantly help such patients. A defibrillator is a special medical instrument that generates an electric shock to maintain functioning of patient’s heart. Defibrillation method must be performed within a few minutes of cardiac arrest to save patient’s life. One should begin with a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until defibrillation can be performed.
  • Treatment in Hospital – Cardiac surgeons may provide an appropriate treatment to patients who have survived an episode of cardiac arrest. Cardiologists may provide essential medications and drugs to stabilize the heart and prevent further possibility of cardiac arrest.
  • Long-Term Treatment for Cardiac Arrest – Long-term treatment to prevent another episode of cardiac arrest may include the following.
  • Medicines – Surgeons may prescribe beta blockers to patients with a serious heart condition. Several other medications that can also be used include amiodarone, atropine, and lidocaine. However, prolonged use of these medicines may result in various side-effects.
  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) – An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a specialized device used to maintain normal rhythm of patient’s heart and save them from major complications like cardiac arrest. Surgeons may implant this device in upper chest area to precisely measure the electrical activity of patient’s heart. It can either act as a pacemaker or shock delivering device to help regulate normal heartbeats.
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention – Also known as ‘coronary angioplasty’, a percutaneous coronary intervention is a procedure which is performed to correct the narrowed coronary arteries of patients and promote flow of blood through heart. This treatment procedure considerably improves the symptoms like severe chest pain and breathlessness and reduces the possibility of cardiac arrest.
  • Coronary Bypass Surgery – CABG, a surgical intervention is used to treat poor flow of blood to patient’s heart. Cardiologists make a new route for bypassing normal blood flow to heart with the help of a healthy blood vessel (Usually taken from leg or arm of patients). It noticeably reduces the frequency of racing heartbeats.
  • Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation (RFCA) – It is a minimally invasive medical intervention which is performed to treat atrial fibrillation. During this procedure, cardiac surgeon destroys the unwanted electrical impulses in patient’s heart with the help of a cardiac catheter. It is known to maximize patient’s life quality and minimize the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Corrective Heart Surgery – Cardiac surgeons may recommend a corrective heart surgery to patients with congenital heart defects. It can considerably accelerate flow of blood through patient’s heart and reduce the occurrence of arrhythmias.

Recovery Following Treatment of Cardiac Arrest

Recovery depends on severity of heart disease and overall health status of patients. Healing process following some significant heart surgeries is discussed below.

  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) Procedure – Patients may need staying in the hospital for a couple of days after completion of surgery. Complete recovery following an ICD procedure normally takes up to a few weeks. However, doctors may disallow patients to drive and perform heavy lifting for initial 6 months. Device batteries usually last for 6 to 7 years. Patients may require undergoing an additional surgery for replacing the batteries.
  • Coronary Angioplasty – Cardiac surgeons may give discharge to patients on the same day of surgery. Patients may feel discomfort following initial few days of coronary angioplasty procedure. Cardiac surgeons will prescribe essential medications to help patients overcome such post-surgical complications. It may take a month for a patient to recover completely.
  • Coronary Bypass Surgery – Generally, patients may be hospitalized for 7 to 8 days following the procedure of coronary bypass. It may take 6 to 8 weeks for healing of patient’s breastbone. Patients need to follow a strict diet during the healing phase and limit their physical activity. If patients experience symptoms like chest pain or fever, they should consult their cardiac care provider immediately.
  • Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation Surgery – It takes relatively shorter time to heal following a radiofrequency catheter ablation procedure. Patients may face recurrence of the arrhythmia. Therefore, cardiac surgeons will most likely prescribe antiarrhythmic medications to ensure normal functioning of heart.
  • Corrective Heart Surgery – On an average, a corrective heart surgery takes 6 to 8 weeks for complete recovery. Cardiac surgeons may prescribe several medications like ACE inhibitors, anticoagulants, beta-adrenergic blocking agents, and calcium channel blockers to reduce the risk of arrhythmia and maintain a healthy heart condition.

Patients should regularly visit their surgeons for follow-up care. It will definitely help to speed up the recovery process.

General Risks & Complications

The following list depicts some of the most common risks and complications associated with cardiovascular surgeries.

  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Pain in chest
  • Bleeding at incision site
  • Clotting of blood
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Breathing problems
  • Infection
  • Redness or swelling at incision site

These post-surgical complications can be easily handled under the guidance of a well-experienced cardiac surgeon. Patients should discuss regarding potential risks prior signing the consent form.

Outcomes Following the Heart Surgeries

Heart surgeries can help patients overcome severe cardiovascular diseases and conditions. However, patients need to follow a healthy routine to ensure long-term benefits following heart surgeries. Smoking and drinking alcohol may give rise to heart problems. Therefore, patients should quit the habit of smoking and heavy drinking. They may take the help of medical professionals if required. Furthermore, cardiac surgeons may recommend important exercises and a proper diet plan to patients. These healthy lifestyle choices can considerably minimize the chances of a cardiac arrest.

Travcure Medical Tourism for Best Heart Surgery

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