According to a new research, recognizing symptoms of cardiac arrest might save your life or the life of those around you.
For a long time it hasn’t been clear if cardiac arrest comes without any warning. Unlike a heart attack when the heart just stops beating, during the cardiac arrest the heart beats are slowly stopping when the heart’s electrical activity is interrupted. Even if CPR can save the life of a person in cardiac arrest, very few people survive so it’s hard to say for sure if it comes without any warning.
A new research analyzed cardiac arrests over a period of ten years in Portland, Ore. by interviewing witnesses, friends and family of persons who experienced a cardiac arrest and by also studying their medical records.
Researchers discovered that almost half of the middle-aged patients experienced symptoms that could warn them and their doctors that something is about to happen. Most of the symptoms were present in the month before the cardiac arrest.
According to Dr. Sumeet Chugh from the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in L.A. and leading author of the study, for about 90 percent of the victims the time when they get to call 911 is already too late.
More important, only a few of the patients consider the symptoms they experience before collapsing bad enough to call 911. Those who call early have the most chances to survive. Unfortunately people are not taking their symptoms very serious and by not calling the ambulance they risk their lives.
Most of the symptoms can be misleading, making people think they have indigestion. Among the most frequently encountered symptoms of cardiac arrest there is chest pain and shortness of breath. According to Dr. Clifton Callaway, the Chair of the American Heart Association’s committee of emergency, these are symptoms for which people should worry enough as to make them get out of bed in the middle of the night and go to the emergency room.
Risk factors such as coronary heart disease, previous heart attacks and some inherited disorders should make people think to implant a heart defibrillator that might save their life in case of a cardiac arrest by shocking their heart.
However, cardiac arrest is a public health matter which made the Institute of Medicine to call for a national campaign to teach more people basic CPR so they can help if they witness a person in cardiac arrest.
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