Who's at Greatest Risk for Cardiac Arrest?

About half a million Americans suffer cardiac arrest each year. It’s a serious medical condition that develops quickly and without warning. Cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. 

Cardiac arrest occurs when your heart stops beating, which halts blood flow throughout your body. Symptoms include no pulse, loss of consciousness, and no breathing. Cardiac arrest can cause death — but with prompt medical care, it’s possible to survive.

NJ Cardiovascular Institute is your expert resource for heart health. Kunal Patel, MD, and our team are highly trained in diagnosing and treating heart conditions, from coronary artery disease to heart palpitations, that can cause problems like cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest is sudden, but certain factors increase your risk of experiencing this severe cardiac event. You could have a greater risk of cardiac arrest if:

You have coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease is a common heart condition. It develops when your coronary arteries become narrow because they’re blocked by plaque buildup. The coronary arteries are responsible for transporting blood to your heart, and if they’re blocked, your heart doesn’t get enough blood.

Most people who suffer cardiac arrest have coronary artery disease. In addition to increasing your risk for cardiac arrest, this chronic condition also increases your chances of suffering a heart attack. Angina (chest pain) is the top symptom of coronary artery disease.

Having other heart conditions can increase your risk of cardiac arrest, too. Electrical pulse problems, congenital heart disease, and an enlarged heart may put you at greater risk of cardiac arrest.

You have a history of heart attack

It’s possible to experience cardiac arrest at the same time as a heart attack. Heart attacks caused by coronary artery disease can trigger an irregular heartbeat that then leads to cardiac arrest within the same episode.

But even if you have a heart attack without cardiac arrest, the heart attack can leave behind scar tissue and weaken your heart. These side effects may make cardiac arrest more likely later on. People who have a family history of heart attack or cardiac arrest may also be more likely to experience these cardiac events in their own lifetimes.

You have certain lifestyle habits

Your heart health is linked to your overall health. Your heart health could be at risk if you:

Pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can increase your chances of developing coronary artery disease and cardiac arrest.

Other factors that you can’t change affect your risk of cardiac arrest, like age and gender. Men over age 45 are at greater risk for cardiac arrest than women or younger men. Those with a family history of heart problems are also at greater risk.

There are certain symptoms that could indicate heart problems, regardless of other risk factors you might have. Signs that you should come in for a heart health evaluation include:

At any time, if someone near you is struggling to breath or has lost consciousness, call 911 immediately. People who suffer cardiac arrest can benefit from a defibrillator or CPR from someone who’s trained while waiting for emergency medical assistance.

If you’re at greater risk for suffering cardiac arrest, it’s more important than ever to take care of your heart. Book an appointment with our team at one of our offices in Newark or Secaucus, New Jersey, to get started on a treatment plan that helps you keep your heart as healthy as possible.

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