Different from a heart attack, cardiac arrest is a malfunction of the heart’s rhythm, or electrical system, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. Possible causes of cardiac arrest include coronary heart disease and physical stress. If not treated within minutes, loss of heart function is fatal. At Baptist Health, our experts are equipped to make every second count during cardiac arrest through both long-standing treatments such as defibrillation and innovative techniques like therapeutic hypothermia.
While cardiac arrest often occurs with no warning, sometimes there are symptoms that can indicate a problem with the heart’s rhythm.
These symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Cardiac Arrest Treatments
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Because seconds count with cardiac arrest, knowing CPR can help save a life by keeping blood circulating until emergency medical personnel arrive. Both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association provide excellent training programs in CPR.
Defibrillation is necessary when a heart begins to beat so fast that very little blood can be pumped out to the body. An automated external defibrillator (AED) uses an electric shock to help the heart return to its normal rhythm of contraction. Found in public places such as schools, airports, malls and sports arenas, trained emergency personnel — or almost anyone else who has undergone training — can attach an AED to a cardiac arrest victim, who may need a jolt of electricity to the heart.
During cardiac arrest, when organs are deprived of oxygen, cooling the patient’s core temperature is essential to preventing damage to the brain, tissue and other organs. Therapeutic Hypothermia is an innovative process of cooling patients after cardiac arrest and then slowly and accurately re-warming the body after life-saving treatment. This technology allows cardiologists to regulate body temperature to a degree of precision never seen before.