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
- 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
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.
When you have chest pain, it’s easy to explain it away as something non-serious. You assume that your big lunch is taking its toll or that the stress of your upcoming presentation is nagging at you, and then you try to go on with your day. In reality, ignoring chest pain could be deadly. Any time you experience chest pain, the only answer is to go to the emergency room right away for evaluation. If you are having a heart attack, every second counts. Find out why you can’t ignore chest pain, and what other symptoms could indicate you are having a heart attack.
Why shouldn’t I wait and see what happens when I have chest pain?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US, and many of those deaths are tied to heart attacks. In some cases, chest pain is the only symptom of a deadly heart attack, and the longer you wait to go to the emergency room, the more heart tissue will be destroyed. Consider these facts:
- 735,000 people in the US have heart attacks each year, and two-thirds of that group is people who have had a first heart attack. Just because you haven’t been diagnosed with heart disease doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you.
- Because most people don’t act quickly when they have symptoms of a heart problem like chest pain, about 47% of sudden cardiac deaths happen outside of the hospital.
Chest pain is a symptom that always requires an accurate diagnosis by a medical provider in the ER. There is no time to wait and see or to make a self-diagnosis.
What are some other symptoms of a heart emergency?
Although chest pain is a serious indicator of a cardiac crisis, heart attacks can cause other symptoms as well, including:
- Pain in the back, jaw and arms
- Shortness of breath and lightheadedness
Don’t take chances with your heart health. Go to Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center and our emergency room in Thousand Oaks to get the lifesaving care you need around the clock from our skilled cardiology specialists. Find out more about all of our hospital services by calling (877) 888-5746.