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What is Cardiac Arrest and Definition
Cardiac Arrest is Cessation of the heart’s contractions. Cardiac arrest may occur as the result of arrhythmias (irregularities in the heartbeat), MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION (clot that blocks the flow of BLOOD through the CORONARY ARTERIES to the HEART MUSCLE), HYPOXIA (such as in drowning), ELECTROCUTION, COCAINE use, or blunt trauma to the chest. Without immediate resuscitative efforts to restore heartbeat, OXYGENATION, and circulation, death occurs within minutes. About 350,000 Americans die of cardiac arrest each year.
Although cardiac arrest can follow HEART ATTACK, they are not the same event. Cardiac arrest typically occurs suddenly and with few warning indications. People at highest risk for cardiac arrest are those who have disorders of the heart’s electrical system such as LONG QT SYNDROME (LQTS), SICK SINUS SYNDROME, BUNDLE BRANCH BLOCK, WOLFF PARKINSON-WHITE SYNDROME, and ventricular arrhythmias.
More than half of cardiac arrests occur in people who do not know they have CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE. Most cardiac arrests take place at home with no one witnessing the event. By the time someone finds the person who has had cardiac arrest, often it is too late for resuscitation to succeed. Health experts believe prompt resuscitation could save 70 to 80 percent of people who experience cardiac arrest. CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION (CPR) is most effective within four minutes of the onset of cardiac arrest. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs), small computerized devices that automatically read the heart’s rhythm and can administer a jolt of electricity to shock the heart into a functional rhythm, have become more common in public locations and at workplaces. AEDs have saved numerous lives of people who have had cardiac arrests.