Heart Attack Is Not Sudden Cardiac Arrest
New Delhi, April 25, 2014: Rajendra Tolani, 65, was hospitalized after he was found unconscious in his office by his son, Kapil, who panicked thinking he might have had suffered a heart attack. In hospital, doctors conveyed him that his father had a sudden cardiac arrest. Not knowing much about it, what he still told to the family members was that it was a heart attack.
Kapil is at no fault here. There are many like him who do not understand the difference between heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest. They take both these as one and the same thing, when it is not. In case of heart attack, there is a blockage in artery due to which the flow of oxygen-rich blood gets halted. While, sudden cardiac arrest happens when heart suddenly stops beating on account of malfunction in electrical impulses.
“Due to fat and plaque deposition in the heart’s artery, a blockage starts developing, which hampers the blood blow. On being completely blocked, it triggers a heart attack. While irregular heartbeats, known as arrhythmia, which when not treated leads to sudden cardiac arrest. Simply, heart attack takes place due to ‘circulation’ malfunction, while sudden cardiac arrest happens on account of ‘electrical’ malfunction in the heart,” says Dr Vanita Arora, Associate Director & Head, Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab and Arrhythmia Services, Max Hospital, Saket.
Human heart is an important organ in a human body and acts like a pump. It supplies oxygen-rich blood to every cell of the body. The heart has four chambers -- two smaller, upper chambers called the right and left atria. Below them are two larger, lower chambers called the right and left ventricles. Through powerful contractions, or simply put heartbeats, these chambers constantly pump oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the entire body. The heart’s continuous contraction happens due to its own electrical conduction system.
The most common trigger of Sudden Cardiac Arrest is ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation.
Sudden cardiac arrest is related to Arrhythmia, which is heart rhythm disorder. Abnormally slow heart rhythms (usually rates may be abnormally slow or below 50 beats per minute) are known as Bradycardia, while abnormally fast heart rates (usually 150 or more beats per minute) are known as Tachycardia. Irregular fast heartbeats in the ventricles are called ventricular tachycardia. When the ventricles start fluttering or quivering, the condition is called ventricular fibrillation.
Due to ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, the blood flow to the brain gets reduced, leading to immediate loss of consciousness and death.
Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest and treatment
Though Sudden Cardiac Arrest happens often without any warning, there are some symptoms which can ring a warning bell:
· Fainting intermittently
· Sudden collapse
· Loss of consciousness
· Shortness of breath
· Chest pain
· Palpitations and vomiting
· Fatigue and weakness
A person can be treated with a bypass surgery or angioplasty after a heart attack, while in case of arrhythmias the condition can be cured with implantation of implantation of pacemaker devices, including Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). It is also treated through radiofrequency ablation, in which the doctors burn the points from where irregular beats originate.