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An Overview of Sudden Cardiac Arrest - Part 1

March 29, 2013

Sudden cardiac arrest refers to a condition that causes the heart to lose function suddenly. It usually happens because of an electrical malfunction that causes the heart to lose its ability to pump blood to other parts of the body, and it also results in loss of breathing and consciousness. This condition is different from a heart attack, which is caused by the blockage of blood flow to the heart, but it can result from a heart attack.

Causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

sudden cardiac arrest causesA form of abnormal heart rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation is the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest. This condition occurs when electrical malfunction causes the ventricles to become too weak to pump blood. Arrhythmias that lead to cardiac arrest are usually caused by an outside trigger, which can be trauma to the chest, electrical shock, or recreational drug use. They can also develop because of heart conditions such as heart attack, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, and electrical problems in the heart.

Risk Factors of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Since sudden cardiac arrest and coronary artery disease are usually linked together, they have the same risk factors. These risk factors include:

  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • overconsumption of alcohol
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • family history of coronary artery disease

Other factors that can raise the risk of cardiac arrest are:

  • previous experience of cardiac arrest
  • family history of cardiac arrest
  • previous experience of heart attack
  • personal or family history of heart rhythm disorders, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and other kinds of heart disease
  • use of cocaine, amphetamine, and other illegal drugs
  • nutritional deficiency, such as magnesium or potassium deficiency
  • old age
  • being male

We will discuss the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of sudden cardiac arrest in our next post.

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