Sudden Cardiac Arrest/heart attack: What you need to know.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest/heart attack: What you need to know.

A Cardiac arrest is closely linked to a heart attack. Want to know the difference? Then read on.

Cardiac Arrest:

When a person collapses suddenly, heart beats stops, breathing stops, blood no longer flows to the organs especially the brain, and the persons pulse stops. Such a person is said to have suffered a Cardiac Arrest.

 How it happens:

Cardiac Arrest is caused by irregular rhythm of the heart (arrhythmia) that makes the heart unable to pump blood to other organs of the body.

The brain is a sensitive organ that is totally dependent on an uninterrupted supply of oxygenated blood. When cardiac arrest occurs, oxygen rich blood stops flowing to the brain, causing an almost immediate damage that results in an unconscious state known as cardiac arrest. This happens because the brain does not store oxygen-rich blood. A reduction in oxygenated blood to the brain would result in unconsciousness.


Difference between Cardiac arrest and Heart attack:

According to cpr consultants, Cardiac arrest happens when the heart no longer receives correct electrical impulse signals to beat.

While a heart attack is the result of restricted or blocked blood flow to the heart.

Although a heart attack could readily cause of cardiac arrest, all heart attacks doesn’t necessarily result in cardiac arrest.


Some types of Arrhythmia include:

Tachycardia: this occurs when the heart rate is faster than normal.

Bradycardia: this occurs when the heart rate is slower than normal.

Atrial fibrillation: This occurs when the upper chambers of the heart beats out of synchrony with the lower chambers in an irregular pattern.


Symptoms of arrhythmia

Arrhythmia do not show symptoms in some patients but doctors can detect it during electrocardiography.

Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG) is the process of recording the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time using electrodes placed on the skin. wikipedia

Symptoms would depend on the type of arrhythmia and ranges from  chest pain, fluttering in the chest also known as heart palpitation, unexplainable sweating, dyspnea or breathlessness, dizziness, loss of concentration, loss of consciousness, sudden weakness and light headedness.




Cardiac arrest is usually caused by an underlying heart disease, some of which include:

  • A Previous Heart attack. A previous heart attack could leave behind areas of scarred tissues, which in turn could hinder smooth conduction of the hearts electrical system. Abnormal conduction of the hearts electrical current will eventually cause a cardiac arrest.
  • Defective Valve A leakage in the hearts valves could cause enlargement of the muscles. This would result in muscle stress and arrhythmia.
  • cardiomyopathy(enlarged heart). This is the stretching, thickening and enlargement of the heart’s muscular walls. This condition weakens the tissues of the heart muscles and could eventually cause a cardiac arrest.
  • Coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is caused by deposits of cholesterol and other substance on the walls of the arteries, causing thickening and narrowing of the arteries. This reduces blood flow to the heart and could also affect the smooth conduction of the hearts electrical impulses.
  • Congenital heart disease.This refers to heart disease that was present at birth (congenital heart disease). Adults who undergo corrective surgeries for congenital heart disease still face high risk of a sudden heart attack.
  • Electrical problems in the heart.Individuals with healthy heart muscles and valves still face risk of a heart attack resulting from abnormal electric conduction in the heart. These conditions include Brugada’s and long QT syndrome.


Other risk factors include: smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, excess coffee intake, some dietary supplements, some herbal treatments, nutritional imbalance (low potassium or magnesium levels), obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, inactivity, diabetes, age and genetic heart disease.

Males are more likely to experience a sudden cardiac arrest than females.


Survival and treatment

According to an article in sudden cardiac arrest foundation, Health data gotten from more than 190 countries shows that heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the world with 17.3 million deaths each year. (Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2015.) This number is predicted to rise to approximately twenty-four million by 2030.

Immediate administration of defibrillation of a cardiac arrest victim can greatly increase the chances of survival.

According to the American Cardiac arrest foundation, defibrillating victims within the first minute of collapse gives up to 90 percent chance of survival. Survival decreases by 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute of delayed defibrillation. And drops to less than five percent if defibrillation is delayed for more than 10 minutes.  Generally speaking, if the regular rhythm of the heart is not restored within 5-7 minutes, survival is rare.

Fibrillation is an irregular and uncoordinated contraction of the muscles of the heart

Note that CPR and defibrillation administration is not recommended for  for a heart attack victim, unless such a persons degenerates to a cardiac arrest. (cpr consultants)

How to help a cardiac arrest victim.

Time of action matters when it comes to saving a cardiac arrest victim.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation CPR needs be given immediately, followed be defibrillation using an automated external defibrillator before medical help comes. If you are in the United states, call 911 immediately but else where, call the nearest medical help possible.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Thank you for your very informative post. Cardiac arrest is fatal and it is important to educate the public on what to do in case of such emergencies.

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