Sudden cardiac arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest involves an abrupt and unexpected loss functioning of the heart, breathing and consciousness. It usually happens due to an electrical disturbance in the heart which causes disruption in the pumping action and disrupts with the circulation of blood in the whole body.
Cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack which happens when the flow of blood to an area in the heart is being blocked, but sometimes a heart attack can also result to a cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency and if not treated properly, it will result to cardiac death.
Symptoms of cardiac arrest
- Loss of consciousness and suddenly collapse
- No pulse and breathing
- Chest pain
- Palpitations and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
If experiencing heart palpitations, irregular or rapid heartbeats, chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, fainting and lightheadedness, seek medical help immediately.
- Sudden cardiac arrest can be caused by ventricular fibrillation which is a type of arrhythmia. The lower chambers of the heart do not beat normally and they shake very fast and irregularly. This happens when the heart pumps little blood or no blood at all.
- Coronary heart disease
- Performing intense physical activities
- This disorder can be inherited from family members. It can be passed from parents to their children through the genes.
- Structural changes in the heart such as an enlarged heart caused by high blood pressure or heart disease. Infections of the heart can also cause structural changes.
- Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- If the person is unconscious, shake his/her shoulder and ask loudly, “Are you OK?”
- Start chest compressions by positioning the heel of the hand in the center of the chest. Use the upper body weight and push down hard and fast on the chest of at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. Continue with the compressions until medical help arrives.
- After every compression, tilt the head back and lift the chin to open the airway. Quickly check the breathing of the affected person for at least 10 seconds. If the person is not breathing, pinch the nostrils and deliver a rescue breath for at least one second and check if the chest rises. If it rises, deliver the second breath. If the chest does not rise, perform the head tilt by lifting of the chin and deliver a second breath. Continue applying CPR until the affected person is breathing normally or until medical help arrives.
Disclaimer / More Information
The material posted on this page on sudden cardiac arrest is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage sudden cardiac arrest by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.