cardiac arrest

The Institute of Medicine says more than a million people experience cardiac arrest every year in the United States.

Cardiac arrest is the result of abrupt loss stop of heart functioning causing the heartbeat to cease. Heartbeat is guided by electrical impulses, a change in the pattern of these impulses results in arrhythmia.

In general 395,000 cases of cardiac arrest occur domestically, out of which less than 6 percent survive.  Approximately 200,000 cardiac arrest cases occur every year in hospitals, and 24 percent survive.

Cardiac arrest is suggested as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after cancer and heart disease.


Is Heart Attack And Cardiac Arrest Same?

A heart attack is caused due to blockage that stops blood flow causing damage to the heart muscle tissue. Heart attack can be understood as a blood circulatory problem whereas cardiac arrest is a result of the heart's electrical system malfunctions.

Cardiac arrest can be reversed with the help of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and a defibrillator using shock to restore heart rhythm within a minute.


Causes Of Cardiac Arrest

Ventricular Fibrillation:

The two lower chambers of the heart are called ventricles which quiver out of control causing the heart's rhythm to change. 

Such change results in ventricles to pump inefficiently, which severely decreases the amount of blood pumped through the body.

It is the most frequent cause of ventricular fibrillation.


Atrial Fibrillation: 

It is a condition of heart dysfunction when the heart stops beating efficiently as a result of arrhythmia in the atria of the heart.

Atrial Fibrillation is caused when the sinoatrial node(SA) located in the right atrium, sends incorrect electrical impulses. The incorrect impulse affects heartbeat efficiency, the ventricles can't pump blood out of the body.


Coronary Heart Disease(CHD):

It is a disease in which the coronary artery becomes narrow because of the gradual build-up of fatty materials within their walls.

Since these parties supply oxygenated blood, due to CHD the supply of oxygenated blood decreases. Sometimes this can damage the heart and can even lead to a Heart attack.

A heart attack is completely different from that of cardiac arrest; Heart attack may cause cardiac arrest.



It is a heart disease that makes the muscles hard and less flexible, it can be because of any of these reasons: 

  • Long-term high blood pressure
  • Heart tissue damage from a heart attack
  • Heart valve problems
  • Metabolic disorders, such as obesity, thyroid disease, or diabetes
  • Nutritional deficiencies of essential vitamins or minerals, such as thiamin
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Drinking too much alcohol over many years
  • Use of cocaine, amphetamines, or anabolic steroids
  • Use of some chemotherapy drugs and radiation to treat cancer
  • Certain infections, especially those that inflame the heart
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Sarcoidosis -A condition that causes inflammation and lumps of cells to grow in the heart and other organs
  • Amyloidosis-A disorder that causes the buildup of abnormal proteins
  • Connective tissue disorders

Also Read: Understanding Different Types Of Cardiovascular Diseases

Other causes of cardiac arrest:

  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Family history of heart disease
  • History of a previous heart attack
  • Age over 45 for men, or over 55 for women
  • Male gender
  • Substance abuse
  • Low potassium or magnesium


Symptoms Of Cardiac Arrest:

  • Sudden Cardiac arrest
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain



The doctor may recommend an electrocardiogram to identify the type of abnormal rhythm of the heart.

Other tests can also be used such as:-

  • Blood Tests - blood sample gives an idea about the attack and also measures potassium and magnesium.
  • Chest X-ray - to look for any signs of disease in the heart



Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or Defibrillation is one of the treatments for cardiac arrest. These treatments help in recovery after the attack.

  • Medication helps in controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Surgery can repair damaged blood vessels or heart valves. It can also bypass or remove blockages in the arteries.
  • Exercise may improve cardiovascular fitness.
  • Dietary changes can help you lower cholesterol.


Tags: Cardiac arrest treatments, Cardiac arrest symptoms, Cardiac arrest causes