The immediate cause of sudden cardiac arrest is usually an abnormality in your heart rhythm (arrhythmia), the result of a problem with your heart’s electrical system.
Unlike other muscles in your body, which rely on nerve connections to receive the electrical stimulation they need to function, your heart has its own electrical stimulator — a specialized group of cells called the sinus node located in the upper right chamber (right atrium) of your heart. The sinus node generates electrical impulses that flow in an orderly manner through your heart to synchronize the heart rate and coordinate the pumping of blood from your heart to the rest of your body.
If something goes wrong with the sinus node or the flow of electric impulses through your heart, an arrhythmia can result, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or in an irregular fashion. Often these interruptions in rhythm are momentary and harmless. But some types of arrhythmia can be serious and lead to a sudden stop in heart function (sudden cardiac arrest).
The most common cause of cardiac arrest is an arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation — when rapid, erratic electrical impulses cause your ventricles to quiver uselessly instead of pumping blood.
Most of the time, cardiac-arrest-inducing arrhythmias don’t occur on their own. In a person with a normal, healthy heart, a lasting irregular heart rhythm isn’t likely to develop without an outside trigger, such as an electrical shock, the use of illegal drugs or trauma to the chest at just the wrong time of the heart’s cycle (commotio cordis).
People with narcolepsy often experience a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. These episodes are usually brief — lasting one or two minutes — but can be frightening. You may be aware of the condition and have no difficulty recalling it afterward, even if you had no control over what was happening to you.
This sleep paralysis mimics the type of temporary paralysis that normally occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the period of sleep during which most dreaming occurs. This temporary immobility during REM sleep may prevent your body from acting out dream activity. Not everyone with sleep paralysis has narcolepsy, however. Many people without narcolepsy experience some episodes of sleep paralysis, especially in young adulthood. Although there is no cure for narcolepsy, the condition can usually be managed with medication.
A number of lifestyle adjustments may also help, including: -taking frequent brief naps during the day -sticking to a strict bedtime routine where you go to bed at the same time each night -ensuring you get at least eight hours of sleep every night -avoiding stressful situations, eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular exercise (but not too close to bedtime)
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including heart attack or near drowning, in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone — untrained bystanders and medical personnel alike — begin CPR with chest compressions.
It’s far better to do something than to do nothing at all if you’re fearful that your knowledge or abilities aren’t 100 percent complete. Remember, the difference between your doing something and doing nothing could be someone’s life. Here’s advice from the American Heart Association: -Untrained. If you’re not trained in CPR, then provide hands-only CPR. That means uninterrupted chest compressions of about 100 a minute until paramedics arrive (described in more detail below). You don’t need to try rescue breathing. -Trained, and ready to go. If you’re well trained and confident in your ability, begin with chest compressions instead of first checking the airway and doing rescue breathing. Start CPR with 30 chest compressions before checking the airway and giving rescue breaths. -Trained, but rusty. If you’ve previously received CPR training but you’re not confident in your abilities, then just do chest compressions at a rate of about 100 a minute.
The above advice applies to adults, children and infants needing CPR, but not newborns. CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until more definitive medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm.
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Warning signs are clues your body sends that your brain is not receiving enough oxygen. If you observe one or more of these signs of a stroke or “brain attack,” don’t wait, call a doctor or 911 right away! -Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body -Sudden confusion, or trouble talking or understanding speech -Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes -Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination -Sudden severe headache with no known cause Other danger signs that may occur include double vision, drowsiness, and nausea or vomiting. Sometimes the warning signs may last only a few moments and then disappear. These brief episodes, known as transient ischemic attacks or TIAs, are sometimes called “mini-strokes.” Although brief, they identify an underlying serious condition that isn’t going away without medical help. Unfortunately, since they clear up, many people ignore them. Don’t. Paying attention to them can save your life.
The word “dementia” is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms, including impairment in memory, reasoning, judgment, language and other thinking skills. Dementia begins gradually in most cases, worsens over time and significantly impairs a person’s abilities in work, social interactions and relationships.
Often, memory loss is one of the first or more recognizable signs of dementia. Other early signs may include: -Asking the same questions repeatedly -Forgetting common words when speaking -Mixing words up — saying “bed” instead of “table,” for example -Taking longer to complete familiar tasks, such as following a recipe -Misplacing items in inappropriate places, such as putting a wallet in a kitchen drawer -Getting lost while walking or driving around a familiar neighborhood -Undergoing sudden changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason -Becoming less able to follow directions
Diseases that cause progressive damage to the brain — and consequently result in dementia — include: -Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia -Vascular dementia (multi-infarct dementia) -Frontotemporal dementia
-Lewy body dementia
Each of these conditions has a somewhat different disease process (pathology). Memory impairment isn’t always the first sign of disease, and the type of memory problems may vary.
Cancer symptoms vary depending on many factors, such as the cancer type, stage, size and location. The early stages of cancer may not produce noticeable symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms often become more apparent.
Some general symptoms of cancer include: -Fatigue
-Unexplained weight loss/gain
-Change in appetite
Many symptoms share characteristics of other, non-cancerous conditions. If you experience any persistent symptoms or other changes in your health, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Holter monitoring is painless and noninvasive. You can hide the electrodes and wires under your clothes, and you can wear the recording device on your belt or attached to a strap. Once your monitoring begins, don’t take the Holter monitor off — you must wear it at all times, even while you sleep.
While you wear a Holter monitor, you can carry out your usual daily activities. Your doctor will tell you how long you’ll need to wear the monitor. It may vary from 24 to 48 hours, depending on what condition your doctor suspects you have or how frequently you have symptoms of a heart problem. A wireless Holter monitor can work for weeks.
You’ll be asked to keep a diary of all your daily activities while you’re wearing the monitor. Write down what activities you do and exactly what time you do them. You should also write down any symptoms you have while you’re wearing the monitor, such as chest pain, shortness of breath or skipped heartbeats.
Your doctor can compare data from the Holter monitor recorder with your diary, which can help diagnose your condition.
Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and protecting against artery damage.
While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol. That’s because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.
Still, many doctors agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart. It’s possible that antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits. How is red wine heart healthy? Red wine seems to have even more heart-healthy benefits than do other types of alcohol, but it’s possible that red wine isn’t any better than beer, white wine or liquor for heart health. There’s still no clear evidence that red wine is better than other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-healthy benefits. Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that’s gotten attention. Resveratrol in red wine Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and prevents blood clots.
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Most research on resveratrol has been done on animals, not people. Research in mice given resveratrol suggests that the antioxidant might also help protect them from obesity and diabetes, both of which are strong risk factors for heart disease. However, those findings were reported only in mice, not in people. In addition, to get the same dose of resveratrol used in the mice studies, a person would have to drink more than 1,000 liters of red wine every day. Research in pigs has shown that resveratrol may improve heart function and increase the body’s ability to use insulin. Again, however, these benefits have not been tested in people. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease. More research is needed before it’s known whether resveratrol was the cause for the reduced risk. However, one study showed that resveratrol may actually reduce the positive effect of exercise on the heart in older men. It’s also important to know that resveratrol’s effects only last a short time after drinking red wine, so its effects may not last in the long term.
Angina is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease. Angina is typically described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest.
Angina, also called angina pectoris, can be a recurring problem or a sudden, acute health concern.
Angina is relatively common but can be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain, such as the pain or discomfort of indigestion. If you have unexplained chest pain, seek medical attention right away. Angina symptoms include: -Chest pain or discomfort -Pain in your arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back accompanying chest pain -Nausea
-Shortness of breath
The chest pain and discomfort common with angina may be described as pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. Some people with angina symptoms describe angina as feeling like a vise is squeezing their chest or feeling like a heavy weight has been placed on their chest. For others, it may feel like indigestion.
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As you get older, erections may take longer to develop and may not be as firm. You may need more direct touch to your penis to get and keep an erection. This isn’t a direct consequence of getting older. Usually it’s a result of underlying health problems or taking medications, which is more common as men age.
A variety of risk factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction. They include: -Medical conditions, particularly diabetes or heart problems. -Using tobacco, which restricts blood flow to veins and arteries. Over time tobacco use can cause chronic health problems that lead to erectile dysfunction. -Being overweight, especially if you’re very overweight (obese). -Certain medical treatments, such as prostate surgery or radiation treatment for cancer. -Injuries, particularly if they damage the nerves that control erections. -Medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain or prostate cancer. -Psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety or depression. -Drug and alcohol use, especially if you’re a long-term drug user or heavy drinker.
-Prolonged bicycling, which may compress nerves and affect blood flow to the penis, can lead to temporary erectile dysfunction.