Sudden Cardiac Arrest Often Comes With Warning Signs
Cardiac arrest in movies look so dramatic. However, a recent study shows that sudden cardiac arrests may not actually come on so suddenly and will instead present symptoms for weeks. The problem is that some people suffering these cardiac arrests are not aware of it because they ignore the warning symptoms from just a couple hours before the event to as much as weeks before the actual heart attack.
Each year, about 350,000 people in the United States die from cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is much worse than a heart attack, as it is when the heart abruptly stops beating. CPR can buy some time while the heart’s electrical activity is out of rhythm. However, the reality is that once cardiac arrest is under way, few survive. It has always been viewed as a sudden event that people can do little to prepare for.
Doctors and scientists in Portland, Oregon conducted a cardiac arrest study over the course of a decade and found that cardiac arrest episodes are not as secret as we once suspected. The problem is that patients are missing the warning signs of an approaching problem. Since less than 10 percent of patients survive a cardiac arrest when not already present in a medical facility, the only way to beat cardiac arrest fatalities is to prevent them.
In the study, of the patients that had cardiac arrest, about half of those people experienced warning symptoms like shortness of breath and chest pain in the month before the event. Although most people in the study ignored these symptoms, the small fraction that did call 911 before collapsing had the highest survival rate.
Although many people err on the side of caution when it comes to going to the emergency room, doctors urge patients of all walks of life, from all backgrounds, to come to the hospital immediately when experiencing shortness of breath and chest pain, even if it is in the middle of the night. Do not ride it out at home and reconsider your plans in the morning. Know your risks of experiencing cardiac arrest and what predisposes you to it. For example, having previous heart attacks, coronary heart disease, and some inherited genetic disorders that affect heartbeat can increase a person’s risk of suffering from cardiac arrest.
Remember to pay close attention to your body and new symptoms, and report anything questionable to a doctor immediately.