What is a Cardiac arrest? this is the scary moment when the heartbeat suddenly stops for some time; an abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not has diagnosed heart disease.
Thousands of people suffer from cardiac arrest and not all are lucky enough to survive the fatal condition. This can be prevented or at least be avoided by making few changes in one’s daily life.
Prof. Kamar Adeleke who is a Professor of Medicine/Cardiology at Babcock University, President and CEO of Tri State Cardiovascular Institute, and Chief, Division of Cardiac Catheterization and Interventional Laboratory at University College Hospital in Ibadan, explained that following can lead to cardiac arrest:
- Cardiovascular conditions,
- Electrical disturbances in the circulatory system,
- abnormal rhythm of the heart and
- heart attacks.
“The term ‘heart attack’ is often mistakenly used to describe cardiac arrest,” Prof. Adeleke explained.
“While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest and sudden death, the terms don’t mean the same thing. Heart attacks are caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. A heart attack (or myocardial infarction) refers to death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply, not necessarily resulting in the death of the heart attack victim.
“Most of these deaths can be postponed if people ate healthier foods and quit smoking. Men develop it sooner than women. However, an increasing number of women are experiencing heart disease but they are not being diagnosed soon enough. Decades of progress in the United States on reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking are being counteracted by rising obesity rates.
Likely Causes of Cardiac Arrest
Prof Adeleke explains the following as likely causes of cardiac arrest.
Stress and anxiety
A stress-filled life, including work stress, does seem to raise the odds of heart disease and stroke. Emotional stress may be a trigger of otherwise unexplained cases of cardiac arrest. Those with cardiac arrest are likely to have been through a highly stressful event the day before. Men with stressful jobs may already be at risk of early artery disease by their early 30s. In addition to normal life stressors, the physical demands, such as hard labour, a person experiences in the workplace can independently increase their risk as well.
Poor Sleeping Patterns
People who work a mix of day and night shifts face a greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who work fixed days or nights only. People with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome—in which airways become blocked periodically during sleep and breathing stops for brief periods — experience a relatively high number episodes of irregular heart rhythm.
Family history of heart disease
If either or both of your parents have it, your risk is higher. Young adults exposed to adverse experiences as children have greater signs of unhealthy blood vessel function than young people without a traumatic past.
According to Prof Adeleke, the best thing to do is to start off with an exercise routine today.
“You can begin slowly by only walking on the treadmill for about an hour each day. One can prevent cardiac arrest by waking every morning before anyone else in the house and drinking a glass of water. The next step is to get into exercise gear, begin stretching and start with the daily activities. Keep moving the body until a good sweat is developed. It is also extremely important to follow a healthy balanced diet,” he said.
Prof Adeleke said Heart conditions and ailments such as cardiac arrests can be avoided by having a healthy breakfast including oatmeal, boiled eggs and orange juice daily. As far as possible include a midday snack like an energy bar. You can have a good lunch based on salads (without the dressings), followed by another snack in the evening like fruit and end the day with a wholesome dinner including chicken or fish.
“It is highly recommended that you consume foods that reduce the risk of cholesterol and which control blood pressure,” he said. You should ensure that you avoid the consumption of foods with a high content of saturated fats and tropical oils as these are one of the primary factors responsible for increasing the risks of a cardiac arrest.
“A diet high in oils and fats hastens the development of disorders such as coronary heart disease, arthrosclerosis and obesity, all of which are contributing elements to heart related health problems.
“If natural activities like a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are not effective in ensuring unacceptable cholesterol level, it is highly advisable to seek expert medical opinion. Based on the doctor’s diagnosis of your condition, he/she may prescribe cholesterol lowering medication.”
He added: “Another thing to do is to check on your habits and give up any detrimental factors to health such as smoking and the consumption of alcohol. Avoid smoking cigarettes or cigars completely. Avoid secondary smoke as well. You must also restrict the consumption of alcohol and reduce its quantity substantially if you are an avid drinker. It would also be beneficial to your health if you can bring down the level of emotional stress that you experience in your day-to-day activities.”
Prof Adeleke said exercise is considered to be an effective tool in the battle against heart diseases. It is also useful in improving the quality of life in those individuals already suffering from heart diseases.
“Regular exercise can lead to reduction in weight, resulting in greater energy. Exercising is beneficial in ensuring better sleep at night. It is also believed to be effective in reversing the process of atherosclerosis. Moreover it is helpful in lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and even in eliminating stress.”
First Aid for Cardiac Arrest
Before you administer the first aid for cardiac arrest, there are three signs that someone actually had it, including Sudden loss of responsiveness; No breathing; and No movement or other signs of life.
Below is how you can proceed with the first aid:
1. Tap and shout out the person’s name title.
2. Yell for help – make sure you communicate with a specific person so that no time is lost while people hesitate, or dial a medical helpline or 911.
3. Check breathing.
4. If AED is available, ask a specific person to get it for you and switch it on and following the prompt.
5. Give CPR: Push hard and fast.
6. Keep pushing until
- the person starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally
- emergency help arrives and takes over or
- you are too exhausted to continue.
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