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What to do when someone suffers from Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Our hearts pump blood throughout the body with an electrical system inside our body repeatedly sending impulses to contract our heart's chambers. But what if there is an electrical disturbance that could cause a sudden cardiac arrest? The situation could be deadly, so the action is required!

Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist Dr. Gauri from Spectrum Health answers those questions and explains the science behind sudden cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness. Sudden cardiac arrest usually results from an electrical disturbance in your heart that disrupts its pumping action, stopping blood flow to the rest of your body. Often it is because the heart is beating too fast and erratically, but sometimes it can result because the heart is beating too slow or not at all.

Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are immediate and drastic and include:

  • Sudden collapse
  • No pulse
  • No breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

SCA can strike persons of any age, gender, race, and even those who seem in good health, as evidenced by world-class athletes at the peak of fitness, even children and newborns. Many patients who may be at risk are not being identified, screened and given options for medical treatment.

If someone has any of the following risk factors or symptoms, he/she should discuss with a doctor whether further heart testing and evaluation by an electrophysiologist or cardiologist is necessary:

  • History of early heart disease, heart attack or cardiac death in the family
  • Unexplained fainting or near fainting or palpitations
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath or fainting with exertion (such as during sports)
  • Previously diagnosed heart failure or heart attack

Cardiac risk factors also include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, or high cholesterol.

When the heart stops, the lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes. Death or permanent brain damage can occur within four to six minutes. Time is critical when you're helping an unconscious person who isn't breathing. Take immediate action and call 911, followed by CPR until emergency personnel arrives.

Some people do not want to do CPR because they do not want to give mouth to mouth.  It is not necessary: the most important is giving them chest compressions until help arrives.

Remember that taking immediate action is going to help that person because if nothing is done they may die.  Don't be a bystander! You could save someone's child, sibling or parent with just chest compressions.

Spectrum Health wants to be sure everyone learns how to perform Hands-Only CPR, so they're hosting classes at Spectrum Health Heart and Vascular Center located at 2900 Bradford Street NE at the following dates and times:

  • 2/25/20, 5:30-7:30
  • 5/14/20, 1-3pm
  • 8/18/20, 1-3pm
  • 11/5/20, 5:30-7:30pm

Register online at spectrumhealth.org/scaevents.

Or for more information on cardiac arrest, visit spectrumhealth.org/heart or call (855)-7MYHEART

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