The Author of this article is Dr. Varun Suresh Khanna, MD, Dip. Emergency Medicine, MHA, Medical Director, Clinical & Course Coordinator – NIAC PVT LTD

In today’s age and time, when the world is moving at a hectic pace and we don’t have a second to appreciate what’s in front of us there are certain things which bring back the lost perspective in one’s life. Life can be described by many adjectives but one thing for sure is that LIFE is UNPREDICTABLE. One second a person is alive and another second he/she is no more. SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST is one such conditions which can lead to the sudden DEATH of a person.

WHAT IS SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST – it is Sudden Cessation of the Pumping Capacity of One’s Heart. Our Heart works like a pump to circulate the blood to all the vital organs of the body namely BRAIN, LIVER, KIDNEYS, etc. When the Heart stops, blood does not reach the vital organs which leads to cell necrosis and ultimately DEATH.

To put it in a little perspective about 10% of all deaths that occur in India are due to SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST which is also the most common factor of death in the world – (2019). As per another study, there are approximately 112 people who die of CARDIAC ARREST every MINUTE in INDIA. It is a number which can be brought down just by knowing and understanding what one has to do in that situation.

Even though there are many causes for that, but mostly it comes down to the H’s and T’s.

HYPOXIA – Low levels of Oxygen in the body tissues.

HYPOVOLEMIA – OR VOLUME DEPLETION – is a critical decrease in blood volume in your body. It can happen due to blood loss or loss of body fluids, such as water. Blood loss can result from external injuries, internal bleeding, or specific obstetric emergencies. Diarrhea and vomiting are common causes of body fluid loss.

H+ IONS (ACIDOSIS) – is an abnormal pH in the body due to Lactic Acidosis.

HYPERKALEMIA – Excess Potassium levels in the body.

HYPOKALEMIA – Inadequate levels of Potassium in the body.

HYPOTHERMIA – LOW CORE BODY TEMPERATURE – defined clinically as a temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/ 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

CARDIAC TAMPONADE – is an EMERGENCY CONDITION when Fluid/ Blood fills up in between the HEART and its Covering called the PERICARDIUM not allowing the HEART to pump adequately.

TENSION PNEUMOTHORAX – is build-up of air in one of the PLEURAL CAVITIES which pushes the MEDIASTINUM (space between the lungs which contains vital structures of the chest – namely the Heart and the Blood Vessels) to the opposite side thus reducing the blood returning to the heart as the blood vessels become kinked.

CARDIAC THROMBOSIS – or MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION – is a condition when the blood vessels supplying to the heart gets blocked by a plaque and the blood flow to a particular region supplied by that vessel is hampered/stopped leading to damage to the area.

PULMONARY THROMBOSIS – is a condition when a small clot breaks off from a bigger clot (usually in the legs) and gets lodged in the small vessels of the lungs.

TOXINS – in any form can cause the HEART to start beating fast or slow and ultimately leading to complete cessation of the HEART.

All the above causes lead to disruption of the ELECTRICAL SYSTEM of the HEART causing an abnormal rhythm called an ARRYTHMIA ultimately leading to the CARDIAC ARREST and the death of an individual.

Most of these episodes happen outside the hospital and in many instances the person loses his life before Medical Help arrives. That is why knowing CPR (CARDIO PULMONARY RESUSCITATION) is of utmost importance as a simple drill/exercise/maneuver can save the life of a person.

CARDIO PULMONARY RESUSCITATION is a Basic Life Saving Skill in which Chest Compressions are given which mimic the pumping action of the Heart. These compressions help keep the blood flowing to the vital organs and should be continued till professional help arrives as this single handedly improves the chances of survival.