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Can a person die of sudden heart attack?

Q: My 53 years old brother-in-law died suddenly because of myocardial infarction and cardio respiratory arrest. He was a healthy man with no high blood pressure, diabetes, breathlessness or other symptoms. How did this happen despite him being healthy? He was alone in the house at that time; in case, if somebody was there, could he be have been saved? Even in case of sudden death, in how much time can one attempt for artificial respiration to bring back the patient?

A:It is indeed possible to have a sudden cardiac death, even if the person was apparently well otherwise. Normally basic life support measures have to be done within 5 minutes after an arrest, if there has to be any reasonable chance of survival. Of course, your relative was alone, and one does not know if he had any symptoms such as choking or breathing difficulty before having an arrest. In case of such symptoms, immediate emergency medical care can be of great help. But one has to remember that even in advanced countries, close to 50% of cases of cardiac arrest do not get to hospital/ emergency medical attention.

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