Cardiac Arrest

The phrase “cardiac arrest” occurs when the heart stops functioning due to a loss of heartbeat or rhythm which prevents blood flow to the body. When a person goes into cardiac arrest, they immediately become unconscious and stop breathing. Needless to say, this is a various serious and life threatening condition for the patient. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops. Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is performed or a defibrillator is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes.

Is it the same as a heart attack?

The term ‘cardiac arrest’ is not synonymous with ‘heart attack’. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced or stopped due to a blockage of the coronary arteries, which feed blood to the heart itself. A person experiencing a heart attack is usually conscious (at least initially) and may experience chest pain, nausea, vomiting or become sweaty.

A heart attack may ultimately lead to cardiac arrest depending on the severity of the blockage in the heart.

Signs of Cardiac Arrest

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders)
  • No normal breathing (the victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds)

If signs of cardiac arrest are present:

  1. Call 9-1-1 for emergency medical services.
  2. Get an automated external defibrillator (AED) (if one is available).
  3. Begin CPR immediately and continue until professional emergency medical services arrive
  4. Use the AED as soon as it arrives

Each year, EMS cares for about 295,000 cardiac arrests in the United States.

Am I at risk for cardiac arrest?

For details about this topic, visit the American Heart Association website.

How can I help?

In addition to recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest and calling 911 immediately, you can help a victim of cardiac arrest by becoming trained in CPR and proper use of an AED. Henrietta Ambulance provides FREE CPR training to full-time residents of Henrietta, Chili and Wheatland however the classes are open to everyone.

For more information about cardiac arrest, visit the American Heart Association website.

Content on this page courtesy of the American Heart Association

Legal Disclaimer: All information provided here is solely for educational purposes. It is not meant to be considered medical advice and is not meant to replace the advice of a licensed medical professional. In case of emergency, always dial 911.