How to Avoid a Cardiac Death- Guide to Survival

“Sudden cardiac death is the largest cause of natural death in the United States, causing about 325,000 adult deaths in the United States each year.”

Cardiovascular diseases have claimed to be a leading cause of death in the United States. It has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that one person dies in the United States from cardiovascular diseases.

Severe medical complications like heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest arise mainly due to cardiovascular diseases only. Researchers say that more than half a million people living in the United States experience cardiac arrest every year.

What is a Sudden Cardiac Death?

Sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death is a medical condition of an emergency in which the heart ceases to function; in other words, it is a sudden loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness.

Sudden cardiac death is mainly triggered due to a problem with the heart’s electrical system, which disrupts the heart’s pumping action and stops blood flow to the body. I

f one does not receive the necessary medical treatment in time, then death is bound to occur. Within minutes of its occurrence, the cells in the body begin to die, and the risk of brain damage increases.

To avoid sudden cardiac death, one should be vigilant enough to notice cardiac arrest symptoms. People who already have a preexisting cardiovascular disease are more at risk of experiencing sudden cardiac death.

What are the Warning Signs of Sudden Cardiac Death?

Looking out for the potential warning signs of sudden cardiac death can help you save your life. The cardiac arrest symptoms may occur immediately or a few minutes before the traumatic event occurs. Some of the common cardiac arrest symptoms that one should look out for are as follows.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Collapsing suddenly
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart palpitation

Experiencing such cardiac arrest symptoms should not be taken lightly and one should seek out immediate medical attention.

If someone witnesses a person having a cardiac arrest, then one should call for immediate medical help and check whether the person is breathing and has a pulse or not. One can do an emergency procedure called cardiopulmonary resuscitation(CPR) to revive the person.

How to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death?

Sudden cardiac death can be prevented if one is cautious enough to lead a healthy and fit lifestyle. Though the risk of suffering a cardiac arrest death increases with age, it can, however, occur at an early age as well.

People who have preexisting cardiovascular diseases can also lower the risk of suffering a cardiac arrest death by formulating healthy lifestyle habits. Some of the ways to prevent a sudden cardiac arrest are as follows.

Eating a healthy diet:

To lower the risk of cardiac arrest, one should avoid a diet that is high in fat, sugar, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. Food that is oily, fried or processed should be avoided at all costs.

Such kinds of food increase the risk of diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which can significantly clog the arteries and prevent proper blood flow. Doctors often recommend a heart-healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.

Here are some medicines for hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes: Doxazosin(Doxacard), Fenofibrate(Lipicard), and Metformin(Glycomet) respectively. 

Exercising regularly:

Though research suggests that doing extreme exercises might increase the risk of getting a sudden cardiac death. It is advised to do moderate level exercise for at least 30 minutes every day to keep the heart-healthy. One can do brisk walking or bike riding as per individual preferences.

Also Read: Heart Attack: What Increases the Risk of this Medical Emergency?

Losing the extra weight:

Excessive weight in the body is an invitation to a number of diseases. People who are obese do experience cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which play a big role in triggering a sudden cardiac death in an individual.

One should try to keep the Body mass index(BMI) within the normal range. Having an elevated BMI is also a significant risk factor for sudden cardiac death.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation(CPR):

CPR is a type of emergency procedure that can help in saving a life when a person falls unconscious and stops breathing due to a number of factors. CPR can be performed when the heart stops beating, and a person goes into cardiac arrest.

CPR can be performed by giving chest compression through the hands to rejuvenate the heart.

Mental health:

Mental health issues like chronic stress and anxiety are also contributing factors to cardiac arrest. The risk of experiencing a sudden cardiac death can be reduced significantly if one avoids stressful situations and starts focusing on how to relax the mind.

Practising meditation, breathing techniques, and yoga can prove to be highly effective in managing stress and anxiety.

Avoid Smoking:

Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products put an individual at a higher risk of experiencing a cardiac arrest. Long-term smoking impacts the vascular health of a person and can make the arteries narrower, due to which blood supply in the body gets restricted.

Harmful chemicals in cigarettes make the blood thicken and form clots inside the veins and arteries. The occurrence of blockage from a clot can lead to a heart attack and even sudden cardiac death.

Avoid alcohol:

One should avoid the habit of excessively drinking alcohol. Long-term alcohol abuse is known to weaken the heart muscle and impact the heart’s ability to pump blood. Researchers have estimated that alcohol can cause arrhythmias, including prolongation of the QT interval, which has been associated with sudden cardiac death.

BOTTOM LINE:

Sudden cardiac arrest can cause life-threatening medical complications if one does not receive the necessary medical attention in time. If one is vigilant enough to take the necessary action in time, it can significantly help save an individual’s life. However, to prevent a medical emergency altogether, one would need to bring specific changes in daily lifestyle.

Being mentally and physically fit and eating a healthy balanced diet can significantly help avoid the medical complication of sudden cardiac death.

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Julain Carter is mental health expert for Goodrxmedicine.com. He is an experienced clinical mental health counsellor with recognition in cognitive behavioural therapy. Julian’s sharp behavioural observations reflect in both his personal and professional life.