Legendary actress Sridevi passed away due to sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 54. This news leaves us, not only shell shocked, but also wondering about how we can handle such situations if they happen in front of us or to us. Do we know the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest? What actions can we take in such emergencies?
Every second matters when it’s a matter of life and death. Not only does panic take over our sensibilities but it also makes us nervous. It’s in times like these that we need to be calm, act instantaneously and in the right manner.
Difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest –
Most people use the words heart attack and cardiac arrest interchangeably. But the two are very different.
Heart attack: A patient suffers heart attack when the oxygenated blood is unable to reach the heart, which pumps it to the rest of the body. During a heart attack, the heart only partially loses the ability to pump blood. The heart continues to pump blood but with lower efficiency even when the patient is suffering a heart attack. A person suffering can go on for minutes to few hours in the condition, and yet survive. However, it is important to take the patient to emergency as early as possible because decreased flow of oxygenated blood to brain and organs can cause severe damage, trigger stroke and even sudden cardiac arrest.
What to do during the ‘golden hour’ post a heart attack
“The concept of the golden hour is the vital time period of up to one hour by which a patient suffering from traumatic injury or medical emergency should be receiving proper medical assistance to prevent death or irreparable damage to other body parts and organs. Although nothing is set in stone, but the chances to save a patient are usually really high if he receives due medical attention within an hour of the traumatic event,” says Dr Vanita Arora, senior consultant, cardiac electrophysiologist & interventional cardiologist, Max Super Speciality Hospital.
It is advised to take the patient to emergency care within an hour of the onset of the heart attack.
Cardiac arrest: Cardiac arrest can occur suddenly, without any warning. In this, the heart of a patient stops functioning due to problems in the electrical system of the heart, disrupting the pumping action. As a result, the blood flow to brain and other parts of the body stops. Within seconds, the person becomes unconscious and has no pulse and this can become fatal.
Heart attack is one of the many factors that lead to cardiac arrest. Poor cardiovascular health, heart diseases, arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats are some of the other factors that may trigger a cardiac arrest.
Also Read: Bollywood’s sweetheart Sridevi mourned
What to do in the ‘Golden Seconds’ post a cardiac arrest
In the case of cardiac arrest, one only has seconds to act in. Therefore, it is important to identify the symptoms.
Immediately call for an ambulance and simultaneously perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Performing CPR involves hard pressing on the chest with hands, with the speed of 120 compressions per minute. Any form of CPR is better than NO CPR.
“As was mentioned earlier, heart attack and cardiac arrest are not the same and cannot be used in one breath, just like ‘innocence and ignorance’. It becomes our responsibility to be more aware rather than claim innocence or ignorance of the two heart conditions, especially in the case of cardiac arrest, where we only have golden seconds to save a life,” says Arora.