Renowned director Siddique Ismail passed away on August 8 due to cardiac arrest. Such cases have increased in the country where people at a very young age are passing away due to cardiac arrest. As per a report, nearly 12 lakh youngsters lose their lives every year in India due to cardiac arrest. So, what is the reason for this sudden rise in cases of cardiac arrest in the last few decades, and what should be done in case someone suffers a cardiac arrest? Dr. Nishith Chandra, Principal Director of interventional cardiology, at New Delhi's Fortis Escorts Heart Institute Research Centre. spoke to India TV about this serious issue
How cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack?
People are often confused between cardiac arrest and heart arrest. Dr Nishith explains the difference and said, ''These two are different things. Cardiac arrest is when a person's heart stops pumping blood while a heart attack is when arteries become blocked, causing severe chest pain. During a heart attack, the heart still keeps beating but this doesn't happen in case of cardiac arrest. The reason for cardiac arrest is an electrical abnormality when the heart either fibrillates very quickly or stops completely. In the case of heart attack, the arteries get clot and blood stops flowing to the heart muscles, which causes severe chest pain to the patient.''
What are the major reasons for cardiac arrest?
People often feel that stress may be the only reason for cardiac arrest but that's not true. Dr Nishith clears the air on the concern and said, ''Like I said the basic reason for cardiac arrest is the electrical abnormality in the heart and there are several triggers for such abnormality such as heavy exercises and mental stress. You must have seen in several videos where people suffer cardiac arrest while dancing or gyming or any accustomed exercise which his/her body is not used to. This leads to abnormality in the electrical system of the heart due to which the heart either stops or fibrillates fastly, and the blood stops reaching his/her brain. However, this doesn't mean one should stop exercising, or enjoyment, but there are several risk facts that can cause cardiac arrest like stress, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, or one has a family history of cardiac arrest. If these risk factors prevail then one must visit their nearest cardiologist for a check-up. Checkups are very easy like ECG, and Echocardiography which hardly take 30 minutes. One need not be admitted for this, and these tests can be done on an OPD basis. These tests determine whether a person is at high risk or low risk,'' he said.
How to identify a cardiac arrest?
''Cardiac arrest means the heart stops beating and if the patient's brain doesn't receive oxygen for the next two-three minutes then he/she will collapse. So, one must check whether the patient's heart is beating or not by feeling the patient's carotid artery in the neck. If the patient's heart is not beating then you will not feel any pulse. But one must be aware and have practiced it before because it is not easy for anyone to instantly check for a pulse. I would suggest the laypersons that every big heart hospital Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course must be organised free of cost. We at our hospital also organise such courses free of cost so that people can be aware of initial first aid. In many other countries, it is mandatory for a 10th Grade student to take the course of CPR,'' Dr Nishith said.
Can ECG detect cardiac arrest?
''At the time of cardiac arrest, one must not waste time on ECG, as there are only 2-3 minutes left for the patient. If CPR is not done right on time, then the patient may suffer permanent brain damage. If any person suffers a cardiac arrest, the first step to be taken after checking the pulse of the patient is to start CPR as every second is important at that time. Along with the CPR, one must also call the emergency number and an ambulance,'' Dr Nishith said.
How to keep a check on food habits?
''The change in food habits is one of the major reasons for an increase in cases of cardiac arrest and strokes. Earlier, food was consumed on time and not stored for later consumption. In my childhood, we used to go out for a meal once in a month or two. Nowadays, in the time where there are so many food delivery apps and people keep ordering food every other day. So, in these restaurants, the oil which is used is reheated multiple times which increases the quantity of trans fat in it, which is very harmful to the heart arteries and causes inflammation, and can lead to heart attack and ultimately cardiac arrest. Proper food habits are very much required to be adopted like natural food, organic food, green leafy vegetables, fruits, milk, curd, and freshly cooked home food. And another big reason is smoking and many youngsters smoke e-cigarettes which are equally harmful. If any person consumes alcohol, then he/she should do it to a moderate level.'' Dr Nishith said.
Can a person suffer cardiac arrest more than one time?
''If anyone has survived a cardiac arrest already, then there is a high risk of him/her suffering it again. After surviving the first cardiac arrest, one can get him/her examined in detail through several tests, and the doctors find out the reason for cardiac arrest and the chances of suffering it again. If any test indicates chances of suffering cardiac arrest again, then there are several treatments available these days with which it can be stopped or either reduced to a great extent in the future,'' he said.