Cardiac Arrest: The Giant Killer You Must Not Ignore.

Kata Kata

Admin | Posted On : 23-05-2023

Cardiac Arrest: The Giant Killer You Must Not Ignore.


Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency when the heart stops pumping correctly, resulting in insufficient oxygen-rich blood being pumped to the body's essential organs, leading to unconsciousness and death within minutes if left untreated.


Deaths from cardiac arrest are widespread worldwide. The scenario is similar in Africa. For example, the disease is also one of Africa's leading causes of death. It is the same story in Kenya. According to WHO data released in 2020, Kenya had 11,972 deaths from coronary heart disease.

When the heart's electrical system malfunctions, the heart stops beating normally, resulting in cardiac arrest. The heart's electrical system controls the heartbeat, and when it malfunctions, it can result in an irregular heart rhythm, also known as arrhythmia.


Cardiac arrest can happen quickly and unexpectedly; the symptoms might differ individually. However, there are several frequent indications and symptoms of cardiac arrest, such as:

 - sudden loss of consciousness, where the person may fall and lose consciousness unexpectedly. 

The absence of a pulse or respiration is the second sign. When one suffers from cardiac arrest, their heart stops beating effectively, resulting in no pulse or respiration. 

The third symptom is inaction. In this state, they may not respond to stimuli such as shaking or calling their name.

Some experience Chest pain, discomfort, or pressure before experiencing cardiac arrest. 

Another symptom is shortness of breath, which occurs when the person has difficulty breathing or feels short of breath before cardiac arrest. The patient may also feel dizzy and experience sweating and nausea. 


Cardiac arrest can occur due to a variety of underlying causes. One of the known causes of cardiac arrest is coronary artery disease, a disorder in which the arteries that transport blood to the heart narrow or obstruct, limiting blood flow and increasing the risk of a heart attack and cardiac arrest.

A heart attack can potentially result in cardiac arrest. A heart attack usually happens when one or more coronary arteries become clogged, causing heart muscle damage and increasing the risk of cardiac arrest. 

Cardiomyopathy is another cause. This heart muscle disorder can weaken the heart and increase the chance of an irregular heart rhythm, resulting in cardiac arrest. 

Heart valve disorders, such as stenosis or regurgitation, can also make the heart work harder than usual, increasing the risk of cardiac arrest.

Furthermore, some people are born with structural heart defects, which might raise the risk of cardiac arrest. 

A prolonged QT interval or other arrhythmias in the heart's electrical system can cause the heart to beat irregularly, increasing the risk of cardiac arrest. 

Certain medicines, such as opioids, can also depress the respiratory system and electrical activity in the heart, resulting in cardiac arrest.



Several variables can raise the likelihood of cardiac arrest. 

  • Age is one among these considerations. The risk of cardiac arrest rises with age, with persons over 45 more vulnerable. Men are at a higher risk of cardiac arrest than women. Still, women's risk increases after menopause, and a familial background in heart illness or sudden cardiac arrest raises the chances of cardiac arrest.
  • Smoking destroys blood vessels and raises the risk of atherosclerosis and heart illness. 
  • Other risk factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity—having an overweight or obese body raises the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes—physical inactivity, and a family history of heart disease.


If not treated immediately, cardiac arrest can have significant consequences for the body and be fatal. When an individual experiences cardiac arrest, the heart unexpectedly ceases to pump blood to the body, starving the brain and other essential organs of oxygen and nutrients.

This lack of oxygen can harm the brain and other organs and, if left untreated, may result in death. 

The absence of oxygen to the brain and other organs may have long-term implications if a person survives a cardiac arrest. 

These consequences can involve harm to the brain, which, based on the nature of the injury, can result in various physical, cognitive, and emotional disorders. Other problems include organ damage like kidney, liver, and lung damage. Moreover, psychological effects, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are also some expected results. After surviving a cardiac arrest, some patients may feel physical symptoms such as weakness, weariness, or shortness of breath.

How can cardiac arrest be treated? 

An individual who experiences cardiac arrest needs immediate treatment to reestablish the flow of oxygen-rich blood to their organs. 

  • The first course of therapy is frequently cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which involves pushing on the chest to encourage blood flow to the organs. 
  • Another way is to use a defibrillator, which shocks the heart with electricity to help it start working again and beating normally. Defibrillator treatment should be given immediately to save the person's life and stop additional organ damage from lacking oxygen and blood. After a successful defibrillation, most patients need medical attention to recover from the effects of their sudden cardiac arrest and treat and prevent subsequent heart problems.
  • Reducing lifestyle factors that can make you more susceptible to cardiac arrest and other acquired heart diseases is another important way to treat the condition. The treatment can be accomplished by eating meals that are good for your heart, lowering weight, exercising, quitting smoking and using drugs, and drinking less alcohol.

It's crucial to remember that cardiac arrest can happen abruptly and without warning to people who are otherwise healthy. Prompt action and medical assistance are essential to increase the likelihood of survival. It's crucial to remember that not everyone experiences cardiac arrest symptoms before the event. As a result, it's critical to be aware of the risk factors and ready to act quickly in an emergency. Call emergency services immediately if you think someone you know is having a cardiac arrest, and if you are qualified, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).


 Photo: Sudden cardiac arrest (