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Sudden cardiac arrest or SCA as it is commonly called is one of the major causes of death in India. As per a study conducted by WHO, approximately 4280 out of every one lakh people die every year from SCA in India.
What exactly is a sudden cardiac arrest?
A sudden loss of heart function, consciousness, and breath which leads to obstruction of blood flow to the rest of the body is known as sudden cardiac arrest. If not treated immediately, this could lead to sudden cardiac death.
Read on to know some shocking facts about sudden cardiac arrest:
- About 90% of people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest do not survive and die before they reach a hospital or medical care.
- SCA takes more lives than AIDS, breast cancer, lung cancer, or stroke.
- Most cases of SCA are caused by congestive heart failure. This is due to cardiovascular disease, where there is an accumulation of fat deposits on the walls of the blood vessels. This leads to narrowing of the vessel thickness, and reduced blood supply to the various parts of the body. When the blood supply is significantly reduced, there is a heart attack. A similar blood supply cut off to the brain would lead to stroke.
- SCA is often seen in patients who have had a prior heart attack. There are, however, patients who seem quite healthy and suffer a SCA. These people may never be diagnosed of their underlying heart disease and may not know that they have a serious problem.
- Most cases of SCA can be managed by giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the right time. This helps keep oxygen supply intact until proper medical help arrives. It is quite easy for people to get trained on CPR, which can help save the life of a stranger or a family member. Given by someone who is near the individual who is having the attack, this is also known as bystander CPR.
- It has been proven that bystander CPR improves the rate of survival by almost 50%. It also reduces neurologic complications when done immediately.
- Silent cardiac arrests often occur when there is no visible exertion.
- SCA are often seen in patients who have had myocardial ischemia (cut off of blood supply to the heart) and there is often no associated chest pain in these cases. The only symptom could be breathlessness, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, and loss of consciousness.
- Most heart attacks occur at home, and have a high chance of being ignored. There is a high chance of recurrence, and statistics indicate that less than 2% people survive if they suffer a repeat attack within a month.
- SCA is more often seen in the elderly, diabetic, and women population.
Gone are the days when heart attacks were only experienced by people past a certain age. Today, a large number of younger people without any significant risk factors are affected by this condition as well. The changing lifestyle with highly stressful lives, poor eating and rest habits, and lack of physical exercise are all attributed as possible causes.
With everyone busy in their lived, there are increased number of instances where a person suffers a sudden heart attack at night, which goes unnoticed and the person dies unattended. The following are some tips to work at regularly, so that incidence of sudden heart attack is reduced.
- Understand the risks: Sudden heart attacks amount to a large number of deaths but these can be effectively reduced by the management of risk factors. Advancing age, being overweight, diabetes, smoking, family history, sedentary lifestyle and stress are all known to increase the risk of a sudden heart attack. It is very important to take note of these and act on these, so the condition can be managed. While age and family history cannot be modified, the others definitely can be.
- Weight management: It is very essential to maintain an optimal weight. The sedentary lifestyle that we all have become accustomed to has upped the risk for sudden heart attacks. So, weight management is of extreme importance in preventing sudden heart attacks.
- Watch what you eat: The increased consumption of processed, sweetened foods along with lack of fiber has led to poor overall nutrition. This is worsened by the use of artificial sweeteners, flavors, and preservatives. All these are significant risk factors which lead to heart attacks. A healthy eating habit has multiple benefits, with heart health being one of them.
- Optimal blood pressure: Blood pressure should be maintained at optimal levels so that fluctuations are minimized. These fluctuations, especially at rest, can lead to sudden heart attacks. Monitor constantly and keep a record to look for variations.
- Kick the butt: Smoking has multiple harmful effects on the health, and increased risk of sudden heart attack is one of them. Quit smoking and see your diabetes, blood pressure, and heart health improve. Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke where possible.
- Monitor and maintain cholesterol levels: This is a major reason for sudden heart attacks and needs close monitoring and maintenance.
- Sweat it out: Work out. Period, anything that works for you is fine, be it swimming, cycling, running, or jogging. Be active and see your heart thank you.
- Relax: Stress does not help, so don’t fret and chill. Once you do that, you are sure to see your overall health improve. Try yoga, meditation, music, or exercise – whatever does the trick for you.
With these measures, you can reduce the risk of heart disease to a large extent.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!