When the heart stops functioning, a person will experience what is medically called a sudden cardiac arrest or SCD. According to the data, there is no other natural cause of death in the United States than sudden cardiac arrest due to the fact that it causes more than 325,000 deaths every year. Out of all the deaths caused by hear diseases, sudden cardiac arrest is the cause in 50% of them. The data also claims that sudden cardiac arrest is most likely to occur in those who are in their 30s and 40s and it is usually men who are affected by it. This condition is extremely rare in children as it occurs in no more than two children out of 100,000 each year.
Sudden cardiac arrest is not a heart attack!
It is important not to mix sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack because these two are completely different conditions. However, it is not uncommon for the sudden cardiac arrest to occur during a heart attack. In case of a heart attack, it occurs in situations when one or more arteries of the heart are blocked and there is not enough oxygen reaching the heart of a person through the blood. The heart will get damaged without the proper amount of oxygen reaching the heart muscle.
On the other hand, in case of cardiac arrest, it occurs when the electrical system of the heart stops functioning like it should and starts to work irregularly all of a sudden. When that happens, the heart starts beating really fast and the ventricles may flutter and that makes the blood unable to move through the body. These situations are quite dangerous because it is not uncommon that not enough blood reaching the brain may cause a person to lose consciousness. It is essential that at that moment a person receives emergency treatment in order for death to be avoided. This emergency treatment consists of cardiopulmonary resustication or CPR and defibrillators.
What causes sudden cardiac death?
First of all, it is important to get to know the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest. The most commonly seen symptoms are a really fast heartbeat and the feeling of dizziness. However, in almost 50% of all of the sudden cardiac arrest no signs will warn a person of the coming cardiac arrest.
In almost all causes of sudden cardiac arrest the cause that lead to that condition are abnormal heart rhythms, otherwise known as arrhythmias. The most commonly seen arrhythmia which occurs is called ventricular fibrillation. This arrhythmia is an erratic and disorganized firing of impulses from the lower chambers of the heart. If that happens, there would not be enough blood pumped by the heart and in a majority of cases a person will experience death.
Even though there are not always signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest, there are a lot of risk factors which increase the chance of suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest. Some of the usually seen risk factors include a previous heart attack where a huge area of the heart was damaged, a period of half a year following a heart attack is really dangerous, suffering from coronary artery disease and smoking, high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease.
Apart from these risk factors, there are those which do not occur as often but must not be neglected like prior episode of sudden cardiac arrest, obesity, diabetes, recreational drug abuse, the consumption of “pro-arrhythmic” drugs, ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation after a heart attack, heart failure, dilated cardiomyopathy and many more.
Can sudden cardiac arrest be treated?
It is important to know that sudden cardiac arrest can be treated. However, it is of most importance that an emergency action takes place the moment the arrest occurs. If that happens, the chances that a person will not suffer death are extremely good and are as high as 90%. However, with every passing minute the chances of survival decrease by 10%. A person who survives the first danger of sudden cardiac arrest has an extremely good outlook when long term is considered.
Just like with every other disease and condition, it is far better for it to be prevented and not treated. There are ways a person can prevent suffering from sudden cardiac arrest.
The first thing that needs to be done if a person has at least one of the risk factors is to go and talk to a doctor. Regular check-ups are important and should not be neglected. Apart from this, it is important that a person who is in danger of sudden cardiac arrest makes certain changes in his or her lifestyle. Some of the most commonly advised changes include quitting smoking, losing weight, regular exercise, a low-fat diet, better management of diabetes and certain other conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.