What everyone should know about sudden cardiac arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is a very serious condition in which the heart abruptly stops beating. It’s caused by a malfunction within the heart’s electrical system, which is responsible for regulating the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. Patients who experience cardiac arrest need immediate medical attention, even before they reach the Emergency Room at Los Robles Regional Medical Center. Unless patients receive immediate intervention, death typically occurs within minutes.

Recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest can’t always be detected before it will occur. However, some patients do experience some symptoms in the hours or weeks leading up to the episode. These symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Faintness
  • Pounding sensation in the chest

When a person suffers cardiac arrest, he or she will collapse, stop breathing and lose consciousness. The patient will lack a heartbeat or pulse.

As soon as the heart stops beating, the tissues throughout the body no longer receive the oxygenated blood they need to sustain life. Permanent brain damage can occur when the brain is deprived of oxygen, even if the patient survives.

Responding to cardiac arrest
Patients who suffer cardiac arrest are typically unable to help themselves, as they lose consciousness. It’s important to know what to do in the event you happen to witness a cardiac arrest.

  • Check for a pulse, heartbeat or breathing when someone collapses
  • Call 911 immediately or direct someone else to call
  • Begin CPR, delivering rescue breaths after every 30 compressions

If you haven’t been trained in CPR, you can just do chest compressions. Push hard and quickly—about 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Note that the chest should rise completely between compressions.

Continue performing CPR until emergency personnel arrive. A defibrillator can be used to restore the heartbeat.

Reducing your risk of cardiac arrest
If you have any heart conditions, you could be at a higher risk of cardiac arrest. Consider talking to your doctor about managing your risk. Your doctor may prescribe medications if you have any of the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

CardioVascular Institute at Los Robles Regional Medical Center brings together cutting-edge medical technology with highly trained heart care specialists. The entire team at our hospital in Thousand Oaks is committed to providing you the patient-centered, superior care you deserve. Call a registered nurse at (877) 888-5746 for a physician referral, or for emergency care, call 911.