Life-saving warning signs of cardiac arrest are often ignored

According to findings of a new research, there are many who tend to ignore potentially life-saving warning signs of cardiac arrest, weeks, days or hours before collapsing.

Recently obtained statistics suggest that cardiac arrest is responsible for around 350,000 deaths in the United States every year. Here, it must be mentioned that cardiac arrest shouldn’t be mistaken with heart attack; it’s actually much worse than a heart attack.

Cardiac arrest causes the sufferer’s heart beat to stop abruptly. Also, the electrical activity of the organ also loses its rhythm. Experts say that initiating CPR promptly might help in buying critical time. However, as very few patients manage to survive the situation, it’s extremely tough to tell whether it’s correct that cardiac arrests take place with zero or little warning.

Researchers conducting this new study closely followed several sudden cardiac arrests taking place in Portland, Oregon for more than ten years. They gathered information on warning signs of cardiac arrests using interviews of friends and family of the sufferers, and people witnessing the patients collapsing. Medical records of people experiencing cardiac arrests were also analyzed by the researchers.

Almost 50% of the middle-aged patients the researchers managed to gather symptom information from were found to experience warning signs, primarily shortness of breath and chest pain, during the month prior to the occurrence of cardiac arrest. This research shows that there’s a possibility that one day some cardiac arrests will be successfully prevented if doctors figure out a way of finding and treating people at maximum risk.

Study leader Dr. Sumeet Chugh, who is currently associated with the Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said that by the time 911 is dialed, it becomes too late for a minimum of 90% of people experiencing cardiac arrest. He added that this study has presented us with a window of opportunity that so far was not known to exist.

Here, it must be mentioned that a small fraction of patients felt that their symptoms were serious enough for calling 911 before collapsing. The study found those were the ones who had maximum chances of surviving.

Dr. Clifton Callaway, an emergency medicine specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, said that the findings of this study remind us that one should never ignore possible signs of heart problems hoping that they are just indicating indigestion. Dr. Callaway was not a part of the research team under Dr. Chugh.