A cardiac emergency can occur at any time and in any place. And while patients should be aware of the risks and take precautions, in general, these are events that are almost impossible to anticipate.
The pace of modern life has led to occupy the greatest amount of daily time in the workplace. Therefore, the chances of a cardiac emergency taking place in offices and businesses are quite high.
A cardiac emergency may occur more frequently than you often want to admit.
- According to the Texas Heart Institute, in the United States, a heart attack occurs every 34 seconds.
- In the case of Spain, 30,000 victims are killed annually by sudden death and up to 20,000 episodes of resuscitation attempts, according to experts from the Spanish Heart Foundation.
Differences between heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest
A heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest are two different things.
- In the first case, there is usually a greater timeframe to reverse the problem.
- In sudden cardiac arrest, just a few minutes may be enough to cause the death of those affected.
Heart attack or myocardial infarction
It occurs when the flow of the bloodstream to a part of the heart is reduced or completely interrupted due, in most cases, to the rupture of a plaque of the coronary arteries.
They can also be derived from a clogged blood clot or by a spasm of a coronary artery. Heart attacks do not necessarily imply that the heart stops beating.
The main symptom is a sudden and very intense pain in the chest, which can spread to other areas of the body such as arms, shoulders, jaw, neck or neck.
Other symptoms may also occur, such as:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Sudden fading
It is important to bear in mind that the symptomatology is not the same in all cases.
Occasionally, attacks occur without the affected person perceiving some of these alarm signals or may confuse them with something else and ignore them.
Sudden cardiac arrest
It occurs when the heart is completely paralyzed suddenly. It is deprived of blood flow and oxygen included in the brain and in the rest of the body’s organs.
Episodes of what is also known as sudden cardiac death do not usually allow those affected to ask for help from people around them.
When the heart stops, the person suddenly faints, completely losing consciousness. Breathing may also be suspended.
Only in a small number of cases, those affected can notice dizziness in the moments before the fainting.
Quick steps to take in the face of a cardiac emergency
- Call emergency services immediately and ask for help.
- In cases of heart attack, the person should be seated on a sofa as comfortable as possible, trying to remain calm.
- It is vital that the affected person tries to maintain normal breathing. Belts and shirts must remain unbuttoned.
- In cases of sudden cardiac arrest, body functions (breathing and pulse) should be checked. If there is no response, you should start immediately to apply cardiac massage or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR):
- To do this, both hands are placed on the patient’s sternum and pressure is exerted down, keeping the arms extended.
- The sternum should be pushed at least 4 centimeters, with a frequency not less than 100 compressions per minute.
- In the same way, a uniform rhythm must be established, with the minimum possible interruptions.
- Mouth-to-mouth breathing should only be applied by people who know the technique. Otherwise, its utility is null.
- If an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is available, downloads should be applied to try to restart the heart’s activity from scratch. These devices do not require special training to be used since their operation is quite simple.
The faster one acts in a cardiac emergency, the greater the chances for victims of being able to overcome the trance.
Cases of sudden cardiac arrest require even faster response actions.
For every minute that passes, the chances of survival decrease 10%, so after 10 minutes they will be zero.
If the people around the affected party do not act and only wait for the arrival of emergency services, the chances of a tragic outcome are up to 95%.