Heart Rhythm Week: Understanding Sudden Cardiac Arrest, Its Symptoms, Treatment And More
World Heart Rhythm Week is observed from June 7 to June 13 to raise awareness of the symptoms of heart arrhythmia.
World Heart Rhythm Week 2021: Cardiac arrest is different from heart attack in many ways
- World Heart Rhythm Week is observed from 7 to 13 June
- Sudden cardiac arrest is medical emergency
- Chest discomfort and dizziness are symptoms of cardiac arrest
Heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest are often used interchangeably, however, it is critical to understand that they are not synonymous. When a clot in one of the arteries obstructs the blood flow to the heart, a heart attack occurs and a sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart beats too fast, slow or stops beating altogether. The symptoms of heart attack start surfacing gradually and if the blocked artery is not treated at the earliest, the condition can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. During the Heart Rhythm Week, let us spread awareness among the masses about the causes and treatment options of sudden cardiac arrest.
Understanding sudden cardiac arrest
The internal electrical system of the heart controls the rhythm of the heartbeat. When the system loses its ability to function properly, there is a disruption in the heart's pumping action and blood flow to the body stops. In this situation, the heart can beat too fast, slowly, or irregularly known as arrythmia. Often these arrythmias are for a short duration and harmless but at times these can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. At the time of cardiac arrest, the most common arrythmia develops in the lower chamber of the heart (ventricle). Erratic and rapid electrical impulses cause the ventricle to quiver instead of pumping blood. The condition is known as ventricle fibrillation. Sudden cardiac arrest can occur in people with no known heart disease. However, life threatening arrythmias develop in people with pre-existing heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, enlarged heart or cardiomyopathy, valvular heart disease, congenital heart disease and electrical problems in the heart. Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest include collapse, loss of consciousness, rapid or irregular heartbeats, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, and palpitations.
Without immediate medical attention, a person with sudden cardiac arrest can die within minutes. Until emergency help is available, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can improve chances of survival. While performing a CPR, compressions are given to the chest at the rate. This should be done until defibrillator that helps to restore normal heart rhythm is arranged.
Also read: 5 Ways To Prevent A Cardiac Arrest
Managing the Increasing Sudden Cardiac Arrest Cases
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), a battery-powered pulse generator is placed under the skin of the abdomen or chest, below the collarbone. The pulse generator is connected to heart through thin wires that can be installed through blood vessels. When an abnormal rhythm is detected, an electric shock is delivered that helps in restoring a normal heartbeat. The doctor may recommend an ICD to a patient who is at risk of developing abnormal arrythmia due to heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, congenital heart disease or other underlying conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest. ICD works throughout the day, keeping track of the heart rate.
However, nothing can work better than improved lifestyle habits. One must quit smoking, eat a heart-healthy diet, stay physically active and manage stress to prevent life threatening heart diseases.
(Dr. Rahul Gupta, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai)
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