Sunday, 15 April 2012

The new or not so new menace on the block: Cardiac Arrest!

Cardiac Arrest..cardiac arrest..cardiac arrest...

With sad news of people slumping and dying without visible 'symptoms' flying around; Old and young alike, people seemingly strong and agile just passing on 'suddenly' without prior illness or ailment; cause of death: CARDIAC ARREST!

This brings a few questions to mind:
What is Cardiac Arrest?
What are the causative factors?
Is it preventable? What can one do to escape the clutches of this menace?
What are the signs to watch out for?..besides the heart stopping that is..
So many questions begging answers.

Agreeably, this is just one of the numerous deadly ailments that causes death, but let's just spare some moment to check this out.

Cardiac arrest, also known as cardiopulmonary arrest or circulatory arrest, is the abrupt cessation of normal circulation of the blood due to failure of the heart to contract effectively during systole.
Medical jargons!!!

Simply put, Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating! That made sense? Maybe it doesn't but that is the hard fact. Some people may be fit as a fiddle one minute and the next they are gone!

In fact, dropping dead from a Cardiac Arrest is all too often the first symptom a person experiences that alerts them to the fact that they have a heart "condition."

When a person suffers a Cardiac Arrest, the most common result is Death.

More medical jargons..

Ventricular fibrillation, the primary cause of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, occurs when the heart's pumping centers, the ventricles, begin to beat too fast -- up to 350 beats per minute. Actually, they're not really even beating anymore. They're quivering and totally out of control.
If ventricular fibrillation is not stopped within a few minutes, death results. In fact, if as little as about 4 minutes go by without treatment, serious, long-term organ damage begins.
The only way to stop ventricular fibrillation is by applying an electrical shock to the heart using a defibrillator, such as the Philips OnSite Defibrillator.
Basically, your heart is a pump powered by electrical signals. If those signals become disturbed, the ventricles may begin to vibrate or flutter in an irregular manner. This is called "fibrillation." As a result, the ventricles are not able to pump the blood through the blood vessels. When the heart stops pumping, blood no longer flows through your body. When oxygen-rich blood stops nourishing your brain, you lose consciousness. If "de-fibrillation" does not occur immediately, you die. 

If ventricular fibrillation is not stopped within a few minutes, death results. In fact, if as little as about 4 minutes go by without treatment, serious, long-term organ damage begins.
The only way to stop ventricular fibrillation is by applying an electrical shock to the heart using a defibrillator.

(A defribillator is An apparatus used to control heart fibrillation by application of an electric current to the chest wall or heart)

Basically, your heart is a pump powered by electrical signals. If those signals become disturbed, the ventricles may begin to vibrate or flutter in an irregular manner. This is called "fibrillation." As a result, the ventricles are not able to pump the blood through the blood vessels. When the heart stops pumping, blood no longer flows through your body. When oxygen-rich blood stops nourishing your brain, you lose consciousness. If "de-fibrillation" does not occur immediately, you die.
In fact, for every minute that passes without your heart receiving an electrical shock from a defibrillator, your chances for survival decline by 10%. After 10 minutes, your chances for survival are less than 1%.
Note that while it is possible for one to experience a Sudden Cardiac Arrest without any underlying heart disease, this is highly unusual and pretty much confined to people engaged in recreational drug use or to those who suffer a severe trauma. And by severe trauma, we mean like maybe your kid out playing soccer or baseball or basketball or tennis (get the picture?) takes a hit in the chest.
Usually a Sudden Cardiac Arrest occurs in an individual with some form of previous heart disease, such as previous heart attack (resulting in heart damage), coronary artery disease or artheroschlerosis. (Culled from www.dontdropdead.com)

How do I prevent it?

You have probably heard all these before:
  • Eat 'heart-healthy'
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Exercise..exercise..exercise..regularly
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Quit smoking if you are a smoker
  • Manage stress effectively
  • Relieve depression
  • Avoid or control diabetes
  • Know your family's medical history
If your diet is high in saturated fats and oils, you're a Sudden Cardiac Arrest waiting to happen. A diet rich in those fats and oils increase the chances of developing coronary heart disease, and obesity all contributing factors to a myriad of heart-health concerns.

Exercise is really very amazing. Not only can it help prevent heart disease, it can also improve the quality of life for those already suffering from heart disease. It can help you lose weight. It can give you more energy. It can help you sleep better at night. It can lower your blood pressure; and amazingly, it's free. 

Having high blood pressure and making no attempt to reduce it is like begging for a Cardiac Arrest. If you have high blood pressure (i.e., hypertension) you should be working with your doctor to devise a plan to lower it. This may include changes to your diet, lifestyle, exercise routine or even medications.

Lose weight. This is arguably easier said than done, but if you can think it, then you can do it.
Take control of your diet, limit your fat intake and exercise more.

The average smoker dies nearly 7 years before a non-smoker. If that's not enough to make you quit smoking (or not start), then how about this:  Smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and Sudden Cardiac Death. 
Save the money you would normally spend on tobacco, and you may be able to go on a much needed vacation to relieve stress!
Everybody lives and tries to cope with stress. But when stress causes us to overeat or smoke or cut down on exercise, the result is always catastrophic. Stress can cause blood pressure to rise and chronic stress can cause that elevated blood pressure to become permanent.

Like heart disease, diabetes is known as a "silent killer." Diabetics are more likely to develop heart-related diseases. If you don't already have diabetes, work to ensure that your lifestyle doesn't invite it. If you already have diabetes, work with your doctor to reduce your exposure to the onset of heart disease.

Finally, know your family's health history as much as you can trace it. If heart disease runs in your family, then no matter how well you care for yourself, you are more likely to develop some form of heart disease than is a person whose family has no such history. Armed with this knowledge, you can take aggressive steps to avoid a lifestyle that invites heart disease. You may not be able to prevent it, but you should be able to delay it or reduce its seriousness.

There, that's it.
Your health is in your own hands, be responsible, live resposibly, and take proactive actions to forestall this menace.

Additional resources from 'dontdropdead.com'

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