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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Sudden cardiac arrest is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. Sudden cardiac arrest usually results from an electrical disturbance in your heart that disrupts its pumping action, stopping blood flow to the rest of your body.
Sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to a portion of the heart is blocked.Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are immediate and drastic. -Sudden collapse
-Loss of consciousness
Sometimes other signs and symptoms precede sudden cardiac arrest. These may include fatigue, fainting, blackouts, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, palpitations or vomiting. But sudden cardiac arrest often occurs with no warning. When to see a doctor
If you have frequent episodes of chest pain or discomfort, heart palpitations, irregular or rapid heartbeats, unexplained wheezing or shortness of breath, or fainting or near fainting or you’re feeling lightheaded or dizzy, see your doctor promptly. If these symptoms are ongoing, you should call 911 or emergency medical help. When the heart stops, the lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes. Death or permanent brain damage can occur within four to six minutes. Time is critical when you’re helping an unconscious person who isn’t breathing. Take immediate action.
Ventricular fibrillation is a heart rhythm problem that occurs when the heart beats with rapid, erratic electrical impulses. This causes pumping chambers in your heart (the ventricles) to quiver uselessly, instead of pumping blood. During ventricular fibrillation, your blood pressure plummets, cutting off blood supply to your vital organs. Ventricular fibrillation is frequently triggered by a heart attack.
Ventricular fibrillation is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. A person with ventricular fibrillation will collapse within seconds and soon won’t be breathing or have a pulse. Emergency treatment for ventricular fibrillation includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and shocks to the heart with a device called a defibrillator.
Treatments for those at risk of ventricular fibrillation include medications and implantable devices that can restore a normal heart rhythm. Loss of consciousness or fainting is the most common sign of ventricular fibrillation.
Early ventricular fibrillation symptoms
It’s possible that you may have other signs and symptoms that start about an hour before your heart goes into ventricular fibrillation and you faint. These include:
-Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
-Shortness of breath
If your coronary arteries narrow, they can’t supply enough oxygen-rich blood to your heart — especially when it’s beating hard, such as during exercise. At first, the decreased blood flow may not cause any coronary artery disease symptoms. As the plaques continue to build up in your coronary arteries, however, you may develop coronary artery disease signs and symptoms, including: -Chest pain (angina). You may feel pressure or tightness in your chest, as if someone were standing on your chest. The pain, referred to as angina, is usually triggered by physical or emotional stress. It typically goes away within minutes after stopping the stressful activity. In some people, especially women, this pain may be fleeting or sharp and felt in the abdomen, back or arm. -Shortness of breath. If your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs, you may develop shortness of breath or extreme fatigue with exertion. -Heart attack. A completely blocked coronary artery may cause a heart attack. The classic signs and symptoms of a heart attack include crushing pressure in your chest and pain in your shoulder or arm, sometimes with shortness of breath and sweating. Women are somewhat more likely than men are to experience less typical signs and symptoms of a heart attack, such as nausea and back or jaw pain. Sometimes a heart attack occurs without any apparent signs or symptoms.
The causes of sudden cardiac death in young people vary. About two-thirds of the time, death is due to a heart abnormality. For a variety of reasons, something causes the heart to beat out of control. This abnormal heart rhythm is known as ventricular fibrillation.
Some specific causes of sudden cardiac death in young people include: -Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. -Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, while usually not fatal in most people, is the most common cause of heart-related sudden death in people under 30. It’s the most common cause of sudden death in athletes. HCM often goes undetected. -Coronary artery abnormalities. Sometimes people are born with heart arteries (coronary arteries) that are connected abnormally. The arteries can become compressed during exercise and may not provide proper blood flow to the heart. -Long QT syndrome. Long QT syndrome is an inherited heart rhythm disorder that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. The rapid heartbeats, caused by changes in the part of your heart that causes it to beat, may lead to fainting. These irregular heartbeats can be life-threatening.
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. Left untreated, panic attacks and panic disorder can result in severe complications that affect almost every area of your life. You may be so afraid of having more panic attacks that you live in a constant state of fear, ruining your quality of life. Complications that panic attacks may cause or be linked to include:
–Development of specific phobias, such as fear of driving or leaving your home -Avoidance of social situations -Problems at work or school -Depression
-Increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts
–Alcohol or substance abuse
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A silent heart attack is a heart attack that has few, if any, symptoms. You may have never had any symptoms to warn you that you’ve developed a heart problem, such as chest pain or shortness of breath. Some people later recall their silent heart attack was mistaken for indigestion, nausea, muscle pain or a bad case of the flu.
The risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for a heart attack with symptoms. The risk factors include: -Smoking or chewing tobacco
-Family history of heart disease
-High blood pressure
-Lack of exercise
Having a silent heart attack puts you at a greater risk of having another heart attack, which could be fatal. Having another heart attack also increases your risk of complications, such as heart failure. The only way to tell if you’ve had a silent heart attack is to have imaging tests, such as an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram or others. These tests can reveal changes that signal you’ve had a heart attack. If you wonder if you’ve had a silent heart attack, talk to your doctor. A review of your symptoms, health history and a physical exam can help your doctor decide if more tests are necessary.
Doctors have long assumed that saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat are what raise the risk of heart disease. But a study in the journal Nature Medicine fingers another culprit: carnitine, a compound abundant in red meat that also is sold as a dietary supplement and found in some energy drinks. Carnitine typically helps the body transport fatty acids into cells to be used as energy. But researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that in both humans and mice, certain bacteria in the digestive tract convert carnitine to another metabolite, called TMAO, that promotes atherosclerosis, or a thickening of the arteries.
The researchers, led by Stanley Hazen, chief of cellular and molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, tested the carnitine and TMAO levels of omnivores, vegans and vegetarians, and examined records of 2,595 patients undergoing cardiac evaluations. In patients with high TMAO levels, the more carnitine in their blood, the more likely they were to develop cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke and death. Many studies have linked consumption of red and processed meat to cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The Harvard School of Public Health reported last year that among 83,000 nurses and 37,000 male health professionals followed since the 1980s, those who consumed the highest levels of red meat had the highest risk of death during the study, and that one additional serving a day of red meat raised the risk of death by 13 percent. The new findings don’t mean that red meat is more hazardous than previously thought. But they may help explain the underlying risk of eating red meat, which some researchers have long thought was higher than the saturated fat and cholesterol content alone could explain.
A stress test, also called an exercise stress test, is used to gather information about how well your heart works during physical activity. Because exercise makes your heart pump harder and faster than it does during most daily activities, an exercise stress test can reveal problems within your heart that might not be noticeable otherwise.
An exercise stress test usually involves walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike while your heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing are monitored.
Your doctor may recommend an exercise stress test if he or she suspects you have coronary artery disease or an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia). An exercise stress test may also be used to guide your treatment if you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart condition. An exercise stress test is generally safe, and complications are rare. But, as with any medical procedure, it does carry a risk of complications.
Potential complications include: -Low blood pressure. Blood pressure may drop during or immediately after exercise and cause dizziness. It usually goes away when you stop exercising. -Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Arrhythmias brought on by an exercise stress test usually go away shortly after you stop exercising. -Heart attack (myocardial infarction). Although very rare, it’s possible that an exercise stress test could provoke a heart attack.
High blood pressure is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. -You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.
The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to: -Heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications. -Aneurysm. Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening. -Heart failure. To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart muscle thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which can lead to heart failure. -Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally. -Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss. -Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL); or “good,” cholesterol; high blood pressure; and high insulin levels. -If you have high blood pressure, you’re more likely to have other components of metabolic syndrome. The more components you have, the greater your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke. -Trouble with memory or understanding. Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.