Cardiac Arrest Signs of a Heart Attack
Cardiac arrest strikes immediately and without warning.
Here are the signs:
• Sudden loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders)
• No normal breathing (the victim does not take a normal breath for at least five seconds when you tilt the head up and check)
If these signs of cardiac arrest are present, tell someone to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number and get an AED (if one is available) and you begin CPR immediately. If you are alone with an adult who has these signs of cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and get an AED (if one is available) before you begin CPR. Use an AED as soon as it arrives.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Certain characteristic changes in the heart’s electrical activity while it is under stress can reveal particular heart problems, such as restricted blood flow to the heart muscle. Tools that allow the physician to visualize a patient’s heart and arteries include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT), echocardiograms, and others. If tests indicate a problem or if a person has already had a heart attack, several treatments are possible. Along with a low-fat diet, regular exercise, and smoking cessation, many patients are also advised to take a low-dose aspirin tablet (81 mg) daily. Aspirin has an anticlotting effect, discouraging platelets in the blood from sticking to arterial plaques and forming clots; it also reduces inflammation. Low-dose aspirin therapy appears to help prevent first heart attacks in men, second heart attacks in men and women, and strokes in women over age 65. In addition to aspirin, prescription drugs can also help reduce the strain on the heart.
Cardiac Arrest Signs of a Heart Attack Photo Gallery
Several surgical treatments are available to treat certain forms of heart disease. Balloon angioplasty involves threading a catheter with an inflatable balloon tip through a coronary
Artery until it reaches the area of blockage; the balloon is then inflated, flattening the plaque and widening the arterial opening. Many surgeons permanently implant coronary stents flexible stainless steel tubes to prop the artery open and prevent reclogging after angioplasty. In coronary bypass surgery, healthy blood vessels are grafted to coronary arteries to bypass blockages.
A stroke, also called a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. If brain cells are deprived of blood for more than a few minutes, they die. Once brain cells begin dying, about two million cells are lost every minute that blood flow is not restored. Prompt treatment of stroke can greatly decrease the risk of permanent disability. The American Heart Association estimates that
795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year.
A stroke may be caused by a blood clot that blocks an artery (ischemic stroke) or by a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Ischemic strokes, which account for 87% of all strokes, are often caused by atherosclerosis or certain types of arrhythmia. Hemorrhagic strokes may occur if there is a weak spot in an artery wall or following a head injury. The interruption of the blood supply to any area of the brain prevents the nerve cells there from functioning, in some cases causing death. Nerve cells control sensation and most body movements; depending on the area of the brain affected, a stroke may cause paralysis, walking disability, speech impairment, memory loss, and changes in behavior.
Effective treatment requires the prompt recognition of symptoms and correct diagnosis of the type of stroke that has occurred. Treatment may involve the use of clot-dissolving and antihypertensive drugs. Even if brain tissue has been damaged or destroyed, nerve cells in the brain can make new pathways, and some functions can be taken over by other parts of the brain.
Many people have strokes without knowing it, so they do not realize they may need treatment or evaluation for the risk of a full-blown stroke in the future. These silent strokes do not cause any noticeable symptoms while they are occurring. Although they may be mild, silent strokes leave their victims at a higher risk for subsequent and more serious strokes later in life. They also contribute to loss of mental and cognitive skills. In 2008, a study of MRI scans of 2000 elderly people revealed that 11% of the subjects had brain damage from one or more strokes but did not realize they had ever had a stroke. A 2009 study suggested that silent strokes may be five times more prevalent than full-blown strokes in people under age 65.
Congestive Heart Failure
The heart’s pumping mechanism can be damaged by a number of conditions, including high blood pressure, heart attack, atherosclerosis, viral infections, rheumatic fever, and birth defects. When the heart cannot maintain its regular pumping rate and force, fluids begin to back up. When extra fluid seeps through capillary walls, edema (swelling) results, usually in the legs and ankles, but sometimes in other parts of the body as well. Fluid can collect in the lungs and interfere with breathing, particularly when a person is lying down. This condition is called pulmonary edema, and the entire process is known as congestive heart failure. Treatment includes reducing the workload on the heart, modifying salt intake, and using drugs that help the body eliminate excess fluid.
PROTECTING YOURSELF AGAINST CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
You can take several important steps right now to lower your risk of developing CVD (Figure 11.4). Reducing CVD risk factors when you are young can pay off with many extra years of life and health.