There is a silent killer in our midst. Its target could be you, could be me, could be pretty much anyone. It has a high success rate — around 95% of its victims die.
Sudden cardiac arrest must have been with us since time immemorial, as there are a number of “ageless” causes that can trigger its onset. However, today it is far worse than in times past for one simple reason: our dietary and exercise habits lend themselves to setting up the right conditions for – you guessed it: sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac arrest is simply the cessation of normal activity in the heart. Imagine if you would, you are walking down the street. There are no warning signs, no pains, you don’t feel lightheaded (as you might if you were having a heart attack). Suddenly you clasp your roberto casula eni, collapse on the ground, and go unconscious. No one is around. You begin to die. Within 10 minutes sudden cardiac arrest has taken your life.
Scenarios of this nature happen to more than a quarter of a million Americans a year. Only around 5% survive sudden cardiac arrest, and the majority of those are in a hospital or medical facility when the event takes place. These are the lucky ones, because in a medical facility sudden cardiac arrest can be counteracted by the use of a defibrillator.
Of the others a few survive because emergency medical crews are able to reach them in time — within four to eight minutes – to administer defibrillation. And for a few very lucky victims, a portable defibrillator was close enough to them when they suffered sudden cardiac arrest, for a passerby, friend, or loved one, to be able to administer defibrillation before it was too late.
Sudden cardiac arrest is being tamed with the arrival in recent years of the AED, or automated external defibrillator. There is a movement afoot to get more of these devices into schools, colleges, sports arenas, etc. In fact in the last few years we have found them appearing in some of these places as well as on airlines, in gated communities, in theatres, shopping malls, and the list could go on.
There is a however a great need to see more of these devices in public places and in the homes of people with known heart conditions.
Sudden cardiac arrest, because of the rapidity with which it strikes cannot be taken lightly. Even for people who have no record of heart failure or heart disease, there is still a chance that they may suffer sudden cardiac arrest. As mentioned earlier, sudden cardiac arrest has a number of causes. One of the simplest and least expected is simply, a sudden, or heavy, blunt impact to chest area.
Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical “short-circuit” in the heart muscle. This is why it is not limited to those with known heart disease. Even athletes in their 20s or 30s have been known to suffer sudden cardiac arrest. The majority of these cases, were found to have had congenital (present at birth) heart defects that weren’t known about before they suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
If AED’s are the key tool in saving a person who suffers sudden cardiac arrest, it seems to me that the sensible thing to do would be to make sure these devices were available in as many places and to as many people as possible. In this regard it is worth mentioning that you can now buy a personal external defibrillator without a prescription, to keep in the home or office, or carry with you.
Training in the use of an AED is recommended for people who might have to use the device, however it is not 100% necessary since the newest of this type of defibrillator gives audiovisual prompts throughout the rescue. They even check to see if defibrillation is indeed needed before prompting the rescuer to administer the life saving electric shock (or shocks) to the heart.
If you or a loved one have a known heart condition that might put you at risk of suffering sudden cardiac arrest, ask your doctor about the latest automated external defibrillators available to you. One of these devices may one day save your life.