A cardiac arrest is a serious issue that strokes without warning and can lead to fatal consequences in less than 10 minutes. It is fatal in about 90% of the time outside of a hospital setting, and more than 350,000 Americans are struck by cardiac arrest annually.
This condition is characterized by the sudden and unexpected loss of heart function, consciousness, and breathing, and results from an electrical disturbance in the heart which disrupts the pumping action, and inhibits the blood flow to the rest the body.
Yet, it is not the same as a heart attack, but heart attacks can trigger electrical disturbances that eventually lead to a cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that can cause sudden death if not treated immediately.
Its immediate cause is an abnormality in the heart’s rhythm, or arrhythmia, which can result from issues within the heart’s electrical systems. It is also known as fibrillation and is characterized by rapid and erratic electrical impulses which make the ventricles in the heart to vibrate aimlessly instead of pumping blood.
However, note that CA-causing arrhythmias are developed as a result of some other trigger like drugs, trauma to the chest, or an electrical shock, and do not usually occur in a person with a healthy heart.
The heart has a sinus node, which is a specialized group of cells, that act as its own electrical stimulator, located in the right chamber of the heart.
It works by generating electrical impulses which flow through the heart to synchronize the heart rate while coordinating the pumping of blood from the heart to the body. Therefore, issues with the sinus node increase the risk of arrhythmia and lead to a too fast, too slow or irregular heart beating.
However, it is of high importance to be able to identify a cardiac arrest. A person experiencing it collapses and stops responding to touch or speech immediately, the pulse is almost non-existent, and make have faint breathing. The brain damage might occur at the moment, and death can occur at any time.
Half of the people who suffer from a cardiac arrest do not experience any symptoms, but the rest experience the following ones:
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Irregular heartbeat
- Flu-like symptoms
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
Risk factors include diabetes, obesity, a family history of coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, excess alcohol use, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol, a previous CA or a heart attack, old age, being male, and drugs like cocaine and amphetamines.
Moreover, life-threatening arrhythmias typically develop in people with a pre-existing heart condition, like coronary artery disease, characterized by the clogging of the arteries by deposits like cholesterol, cardiomyopathy (Enlarged Heart), a condition where the heart’s walls stretch or thicken, and congenital heart disease, a heart disorder some people have since birth.
People who have experienced cardiac arrest should follow these recovery tips to strengthen their heart:
- Consume heart-healthy foods
- Develop healthy habits, quit smoking and drinking, start jogging or running, and go on routine medical checkups
- Take vitamins
- Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Here is a list of heart-healthy foods you should consume:
- Garlic improves heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol
- Berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries boost heart health
- Avocados are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats
- Leafy green vegetables, like kale, spinach, and collard greens, which are all rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Beans contain resistant starch and lower cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure and fight inflammation
- Olive oil reduces blood pressure and heart disease risk
- Edamame boosts heart health
- Green tea lowers blood pressure, triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol
- Whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat and quinoa, which lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease
- Tomatoes are high in lycopene and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Almonds are full of nutrients needed for optimal heart health
- Fatty fish and fish oil like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Walnuts lower cholesterol and blood pressure and are linked to a lower risk of heart disease
- Dark chocolate boosts heart health
- Chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds are abundant in heart-healthy nutrients