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Diseases

Heart conditions

 Heart Arrest

What it is

A heart arrest occurs suddenly without any warning. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. This often disrupts heart pumping action making it impossible for the heart to pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness and drops on the ground with no heart pulse. If the victim does not receive treatment instantly, he or she suffers death. In the United States of America, heart arrest is the leading cause of death accounting for an estimated 325, 000 deaths yearly.

Factors that cause heart arrest

Certain factors are reason behind severe heart arrest occurrences. The most common cause of this heart condition is an arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation. During ventricular fibrillation, the hearts lower chambers don’t beat normally. They instead quiver irregularly and very rapidly. When this happens, the heart pumps little or no blood to body organs. The condition can also come up if the rate of the hearts signals becomes very slow and stops. It can also occur if heart muscles do not respond to the hearts electric signals. But mostly the condition does not occur by itself. In a person with a normal healthy heart, the condition is brought about by an outside trigger.  These outside triggers are coronary heart disease, physical stress, inherited disorders, and structural changes in the heart.

heart arrest

A coronary heart disease is a disease whereby a waxy substance called plaque builds up in coronary arteries. Arteries are responsible for supplying blood to heart muscles. Plaque slowly narrows the arteries reducing blood flow to the heart muscles. Eventually when an area of plaque raptures it causes a blood clot to form on the plaques surface. The blood clot partly or fully blocks flow of the oxygen rich blood to the heart thus causing heart arrest. Physical stress also causes the hearts electrical system fail to operate.  For instance, an intense physical activity leads to physical stress. This causes a lot of hormone adrenaline to be released. This hormone can trigger heart arrest in people who have heart problems. Inherited disorders also cause this heart condition. A tendency to have arrhythmias runs in some families. This tendency is passed from parents to kids through genes.  An example of inherited disorder that makes a person more prone to a heart arrest is long QT syndrome. It’s a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity. Structural changes in the heart can also cause the heart condition.  Changes in the hearts normal size or structure may affect its electrical system. An example is an enlarged heart due to high blood pressure. Heart arrest requires immediate action for survival.  Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation is critical in treating the condition.  Cardiopulmonary resuscitation helps in maintaining a flow of oxygen rich blood to the body’s vital organ. It provides a vital link until more advanced emergency care is available.

How you can save a life using a defibrillator

Emergency treatment using a defibrillator also helps combat the condition. This device sends electrical shock to the heart. The electric shock can restore a normal rhythm to a heart that has stopped beating. Defibrillation must be done within few minutes after a heart arrest. Survivors from the condition are also entitled to hospital treatment where they heart is watched closely and are given medicine to reduce risk of another similar heart condition happening. Study shows that putting more automated defibrillators in the hands of ordinary volunteers will increase chances of saving people while the ambulance is on the way. Their portability makes it easy to place them nearer to people. They are also easy to use. Distributing this portable devices in public areas such a s shopping malls, airports, casinos, hotels, sports venues etc. has been very effective in combating heart arrest situations. They are programmed to give electric shock when they detect a dangerous arrhythmia. This prevents giving shock to a fainted person. In a previously conducted research, 1,500 defibrillators were distributed to 24 different cities in the United States. 20,000 volunteer workers took part in the exercise. After almost two years, results show that there were 292 attempted resuscitation’s and 44 survivors. 29 of these survivors were saved by the volunteers with the defibrillators and the remaining 15 were saved by cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The defibrillators also turned out extremely safe when used this way. They really detected if a person is truly under heart arrest. No unnecessary shocks were administered in the study. From these results, the bottom line is more defibrillators should be placed out there to help double survival.

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