What are the Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is a life-threatening medical emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating effectively, and blood flow to the brain and other vital organs is interrupted. It is different from a heart attack, which involves a blockage in one of the coronary arteries. Symptoms of cardiac arrest are often sudden and dramatic, and they may include:

  • Loss of Responsiveness: The person affected by cardiac arrest typically loses consciousness and becomes unresponsive. They may not respond to verbal commands or physical stimulation.
  • No Normal Pulse or Breathing: The person will not have a normal pulse, and they will not be breathing or may be gasping for air. Gasping is a sign of agonal breathing, which can occur in the early stages of cardiac arrest.
  • Cyanosis: The person’s skin may turn pale or bluish due to lack of oxygen in the blood.
  • Absence of Signs of Life: There will be no signs of a pulse, normal breathing, or any other signs of life.

It’s crucial to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest and take immediate action:

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately: The sooner professional medical help arrives, the better the chances of survival.
  • Start CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation): If you are trained in CPR, begin chest compressions and rescue breaths immediately. High-quality CPR can help maintain blood flow to vital organs until medical professionals arrive.
  • Use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), if available: If an AED is nearby, follow its instructions to deliver an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.
  • Stay with the person: Continue CPR and AED use until emergency responders arrive or the person starts to show signs of life.

Remember that time is critical in a cardiac arrest situation, and prompt action can greatly increase the chances of survival. Cardiac arrest can happen to people of all ages, so it’s essential for everyone to learn basic CPR and AED skills and be prepared to respond in case of an emergency.