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Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What You Need To Know

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What You Need To Know

Cardiology | by Dr. Ashok B Malpani | Published on 06/12/2022


In the pursuit of a luxurious lifestyle, we often ignore the most prized possession - our health. While most of us are busy surrounding ourselves with luxury, we cannot put a price tag on health, especially in matters of the heart. Recently, the instances of people losing their lives to cardiac arrest in India have been on the rise. The unfortunate demise of singer KK, actors Surekha Sikri and Sidharth Shukla, comedian Raju Srivastav and several others is a wake-up call to each one of us to inculcate a heart-healthy lifestyle.

‘No amount of money ever bought a second of time.’ The famous quote not only instils the truth but also depicts how much we should prioritise our health while staying abreast with our daily activities. Let us deep dive to know more about sudden cardiac arrest and how we can keep ourselves healthy. 

What Is Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is often used to describe an electric malfunction in the heart. Most people often confuse sudden cardiac arrest with a heart attack which are different medical conditions. A sudden cardiac arrest is an electric malfunction where the blood flow to the brain and other vital organs decreases significantly. As a result, the person may experience an irregular heartbeat and may lose consciousness within minutes. 

What Is The Difference Between Cardiac Arrest And A Heart Attack?

A heart attack happens when the blood supply to the heart muscles gets cut off which results in blood clots in the coronary arteries. The heart is still pumping blood around the body during a heart attack. On the other hand, a cardiac arrest leads to reduced blood flow to your brain causing unconsciousness. If your heart rhythm doesn't return to normal, it can cause brain damage and result in death. Heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest and so, it is important to get immediate medical attention.

While symptoms of cardiac arrest can mimic other health conditions, it is important to be aware of the early signs of cardiac arrest for immediate action. 

What Are The Signs Of Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is mostly sudden and abrupt. Patients who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest lose consciousness and collapse with no pulse. In severe cases, the individual can die within minutes if the treatment is not received. However, you can look out for early warning signs which can indicate the probability of a sudden cardiac arrest. 

Some of the early signs of cardiac arrest include chest pain and discomfort, frequent heart palpitations, breathing issues, being fatigued, lightheadedness and dizziness. Contact a healthcare professional or seek medical assistance at once if you or anyone around you loses consciousness. 

Why Do Cardiac Arrests Occur?

While there are multiple causes and risk factors that directly or indirectly impact heart health, sudden cardiac arrest primarily occurs due to an electrical malfunction in the heart. The heart’s electrical system controls the rate and rhythm of the heart for proper circulation of blood to different parts of the body. However, due to certain electrical problems, the heart may beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. While some irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) can be harmless, they can also cause sudden cardiac arrest.

Mostly, reasons for cardiac arrest involve poor health. A history of certain cardiac disorders can deteriorate heart health and impact the quality of life. Pre-existing heart conditions include - 

Also, there are several risk factors that are often associated with several artery diseases which can put you at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. The severity of the condition, however, depends on the medical health of the patient and the history of any existing heart disorders. You are likely at a risk of sudden cardiac arrest if you - 

  • Have a family history of artery diseases
  • Smoke excessively
  • Have high blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Are overweight
  • Have diabetes
  • An inactive lifestyle

Discuss your condition with the doctor for a timely diagnosis and effective cardiac arrest treatment. 

What to Do: Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

While some cardiac arrests are harmless, they can cause permanent brain damage within minutes and in the worst case, death. Therefore, time is critical when helping people who are unconscious and aren’t breathing. Here is what you can do - 

  • Call an ambulance or emergency help for immediate medical assistance. 
  • Perform CPR to resuscitate the individual. If the individual is not breathing, begin CPR by pushing hard and fast on the chest at the rate of 100 to 120 compressions a minute. Deliver rescue breaths after every 30 compressions and keep checking the person’s airways until help arrives.
  • Use a portable defibrillator in case it is available. The defibrillator checks for an individual’s heart rhythm and delivers a shock if needed. If necessary, the defibrillator may be required to deliver another shock and the process is repeated until the individual regains consciousness or ambulance service arrives.

How To Prevent Cardiac Arrest?

Prevention is better than cure, right? Especially when it’s related to heart health. But there are not many factors we can control that can cause sudden cardiac arrest in the long term. Heredity and congenital heart disorders cannot be prevented but their impact can be reduced by medicines and regular checkups. 

For factors we can control such as lifestyle changes, dietary restrictions, etc. which can impact our heart health, it is important to do our part. Reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest by living a heart-healthy lifestyle or getting treated for any other disorders which can impact heart health.


The cases of cardiac arrest are rising affecting the youth in India. It has been observed by the researchers that there is a 13% increase in the cases of sudden cardiac arrest in middle-aged people (especially those who are in their mid-30s to mid-40s). While heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest conditions are different, they are linked with each other. Reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest by getting regular checkups from your doctor, screening for any heart disease, and living a heart-healthy lifestyle.


What are the symptoms of cardiac arrest in females?

Symptoms of cardiac arrest in females include - 

  • Chest pain, pressure or discomfort
  • Discomfort around arms, back, neck, jaw and stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea and cold sweats

Is cardiac arrest more common in men than women?

Yes, cardiac arrest is more common in men than women. However, the risk of a cardiac arrest depends on the individual's medical history and the health of the heart. 

Can I treat sudden cardiac arrest?

Yes, there are several surgical and non-surgical methods which can help improve heart conditions and prevent cardiac arrest. While non-surgical methods can treat mild to moderate symptoms, surgery ensures long-term health benefits. Get medical assistance for effective cardiac arrest treatment. 

Is cardiac arrest a heart attack?

No, cardiac arrest is an electric malfunction while a heart attack is a pumping issue.