Overview of sudden cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death
Demise of a loved one is a traumatic experience. More so if the individual is young and seemingly without any previous symptoms.
Sudden cardiac death ( SCD) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. It usually causes death if not treated within minutes.
Some individuals may experience chest pain, shortness of breath or nausea before cardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest is preceded by no warning symptoms in approximately 50% of the people. When it occurs, the most obvious sign is lack of palpable pulse, dizziness, loss of consciousness and he would have stopped breathing.
Coronary artery disease is responsible for 62 to 70 % of all SCD’S. Patient may be having angina , chest pain which is overlooked or neglected . It may be mistaken as gas formation. Left main artery blockage, proximal LAD obstruction are the most common angiographic finding if they survive.
Heart disease not related to coronary arteries like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Myocarditis, congestive heart failure. Here it is important to mention high altitude pulmonary edema where physical exercise or roaming around at high altitude is done without proper acclimatization.
Certain rhythm disturbance of the heart which may occur from birth can lead to sudden death. Causes may be long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, Wolff Parkinson- white syndrome.
Non Cardiac causes 15- 20 % of cases are due to bleeding massively like rupture of aortic aneurysm, gastro intestinal bleed, drowning. Poisoning like sting of certain jelly fish.
Prevention of SCD included maintaining a healthy life style, NOT SMOKING, moderate physical activity, and a healthy weight.
Do not ignore cardiac symptoms, angina has to be taken cognation of, obesity high blood pressure, diabetic, high cholesterol and a strong family history of cardiac disease, all are factors to be recognized and treated if need be.
With more and more understanding of this condition it is important to have resuscitative measures in place. Schools, colleges are taught cardio pulmonary resuscitation and any person present should start CPR. Nearly all airports, railway cardiac defibrillator are installed. By standers should start CPR, by the lay public improves the survival. Chest compressions by hand till medical help arrives itself may be sometimes sufficient.
Early recognition, aggressive resuscitation and emergency medical help can change the situation of the person. Only 10% of the people who have sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive. In hospital arrest nearly 30% have the chances to survive and be are discharged from the hospital. Advanced therapy & with drugs, automatic implantable defibrillator & treatment of the cause all are important.