In the second part of a series of a blogs, we hope to answer some further questions you may have regarding defibrillators, electrode pads, cardiac arrest and everything in between.
We hope that with us shedding further light on cardiac arrest, what happens, how it works, how first aid and CPR training can help and how important it is, it will help more people recognise an emergency situation and what they need to do to potentially help save someone’s life.
What causes cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest is a heart condition which is sudden and often unexpected when it happens. It primarily affects the heart muscle but subsequently affects all the other vital organs around the body as they become starved of much needed oxygenated blood.
The most common underlying reason for patients to suffer a cardiac arrest is coronary heart disease. Most cardiac arrests that to lead to sudden death occur when electrical impulses in the diseased heart become rapid (VT, ventricular tachycardia) or chaotic/quivering (VF, ventricular fibrillation) or both.
This irregular heart rhythm causes the heart to suddenly stop beating, meaning that blood is no longer travelling around the body.
A common misconception is that a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are the same thing, but in fact they are different problems linked to the heart itself. A heart attack is the result of a blockage in an artery due to a build up of fatty materials; this can lead to a sudden cardiac arrest subsequently.
Other factors which can cause a cardiac arrest include:
- Respiratory arrest
How can a Sudden Cardiac Arrest be prevented?
Living a healthy lifestyle is your first point of call if you’re looking to avoid a sudden cardiac arrest, however that is not to say that if you live like the healthiest person on the planet you will avoid a cardiac arrest no matter what.
Staying in shape, eating healthy foods, maintaining a reasonable weight and avoiding smoking are all good starting points.
Unfortunately we are all vulnerable to a cardiac arrest due to the nature of the heart and the unpredictable way in which underlying heart problems can form without our knowledge.
However, the monitoring and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes is important. If any abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias are detected during medical scans, they can be treated through implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) therapy and the use of medications.
What causes cardiac arrest in young adults and children?
There are three primary causes of cardiac arrest in young people, all of which can strike without warning.
- Long QT Syndrome – this is an often unrecognized congenital condition which is with the child from birth and results in an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system, which can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. This is a genetic disease which affects approximately 1 in 7,000 young people.
- Commotio Cordis – this is a condition which can occur when an object strikes a sharp or blunt blow to the chest wall of a child/young adult. The blow subsequently causes electrical malfunction in the heart leading to a cardiac arrest. In America, for example, this has been seen to occur whilst children are playing baseball and the ball strikes their chest during play.
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – this is a inherited heart muscle disease which affects the walls of the heart’s left ventricle whereby they become abnormally thickened (hypertrophy). This structural abnormality can lead to an obstruction in the blood flow from the heart developing, causing a loss of consciousness and can then lead to a sudden cardiac arrest. Approximately 1 in 500 young people have this condition.
If you have any questions regarding cardiac arrest, you can always get in touch with us via social media, leave a comment on this blog post or you can contact the defibshop team on 0845 071 0830 and we’ll be happy to provide all the answers you’re looking for.