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What Causes Cardiac Arrest? How Does it Differ From Heart Attack?

Here’s all you need to know about cardiac arrest.

CNN-News18

Updated:December 5, 2016, 3:03 AM IST
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What Causes Cardiac Arrest? How Does it Differ From Heart Attack?
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The condition of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who was hospitalised on September 22, deteriorated on Sunday evening as she suffered cardiac arrest.

"The honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who is undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening," said a statement by Apollo Hospital where she is admitted.

Here’s all you need to know about cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest

A cardiac arrest happens when your heart stops pumping blood around your body.

If someone has suddenly collapsed, is not breathing normally and is unresponsive, they are in cardiac arrest.

What causes a cardiac arrest?

The most common cause of a cardiac arrest is a life threatening abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF).

Ventricular fibrillation happens when the electrical activity of your heart becomes so chaotic that the heart stops pumping and quivers or 'fibrillates' instead. There are various causes of VF. These can be problems with your heart, or other causes.

Prayers, Get-Well Messages Pour in For Jayalalithaa On Twitter

Can one recover from a cardiac arrest?

Defibrillator It is possible to survive and recover from a cardiac arrest, if one get the right treatment quickly.

VF can sometimes be corrected by giving an electric shock through the chest wall, by using a device called a defibrillator.

This can be done in the ambulance, or at hospital, or it can be done by a member of the public at the scene of a cardiac arrest if there is a community defibrillator nearby.

Immediate CPR can be used to keep oxygen circulating around the body until a defibrillator can be used and/or until the ambulance arrives.

Jayalalithaa Suffers Cardiac Arrest, Being Monitored by Team of Experts at Apollo Hospital

What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?

Although a heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest, they are not the same thing.

A heart attack is a sudden interruption to the blood supply to part of the heart muscle. It is likely to cause chest pain and permanent damage to the heart. The heart is still sending blood around the body and the person remains conscious and is still breathing.

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. Someone who is having a cardiac arrest will suddenly lose consciousness and will stop breathing or stop breathing normally. Unless immediately treated by CPR this always leads to death within minutes.

A person having a heart attack is at high risk of experiencing a cardiac arrest.

Both a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are life-threatening medical emergencies and require immediate medical help.

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| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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