26 June, 2009

What is Cardiac Arrest

Introduction
A cardiac arrest is the abrupt cessation of normal circulation of the blood due to failure of the heart to contract effectively during systole.

Cardiac arrest is the sudden, abrupt loss of heart function. The victim may or may not have diagnosed heart disease.Sudden death (also called sudden cardiac death) occurs within minutes after symptoms appear. A cardiac arrest also known as cardiopulmonary arrest or circulatory arrest.
'King of Pop' Michael Jackson on Friday died of a cardiac arrest on 26 June 2009 at at 2:26 pm (0256 IST) local time.

Causes of cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest is synonymous with clinical death.The most common underlying reason for patients to die suddenly from cardiac arrest is coronary heart disease. Most cardiac arrests that lead to sudden death occur when the electrical impulses in the diseased heart become rapid (ventricular tachycardia) or chaotic (ventricular fibrillation) or both. This irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) causes the heart to suddenly stop beating.
Some cardiac arrests are due to extreme slowing of the heart. This is called Bradycardia.
Other factors besides heart disease and heart attack can cause cardiac arrest. They include respiratory arrest, electrocution, drowning, choking and trauma, infections, overdoses, trauma and cancer. Cardiac arrest can also occur without any known cause.

How many people survive cardiac arrest?
No data is available for the exact number of cardiac arrests that occur each year. It is estimated that more than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. In cities where defibrillation is provided within 5 to 7 minutes, the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is as high as 30–45 percent.

What can be done to increase the survival rate?


Early CPR and rapid defibrillation combined with early advanced care can result in high long-term survival rates for witnessed cardiac arrest.
If bystander CPR was initiated more consistently, if AEDs were more widely available, and if every community could achieve a 20 percent cardiac arrest survival rate, an estimated 40,000 more lives could be saved each year. Death from sudden cardiac arrest is not inevitable. If more people react quickly by calling 9-1-1 and performing CPR, more lives can be saved.

Prevention for Cardiac Arrest
Prevention of cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death is aimed at controlling underlying heart disease. Experts generally recommend that people make lifestyle changes to prevent the conditions that could trigger cardiac arrest, including atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of coronary artery disease. Lifestyle changes may include losing weight, reducing LDL cholesterol levels, eating a heart-healthy diet and getting adequate exercise. When warranted, experts also recommend medical treatment of any underlying conditions, which may involve taking medications and/or having surgery (e.g., placing an implantable defibrillator into the patient’s chest).


Note 1 : A heart attack happens every 29 seconds and is usually due to coronary artery disease (CAD).
Note 2 : The heart and lungs work together to pump oxygenated blood throughout the body (circulation).