Saturday, June 3, 2023

How to avoid sudden cardiac arrest in elderly

Veteran actor Tabassum Govil best known for hosting India’s first TV talk show Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan passed away at the age of 78 following a cardiac arrest on Friday (November 18). Elderly or people over 70 are more at risk of sudden cardiac arrest than the rest as one may have more chronic conditions like diabetes, high BP, smoking, previous heart attacks, weak heart. According to studies, elderly individuals have lower resuscitation and survival rates than younger individuals after in-hospital cardiac arrest. Staying active, eating healthy – food rich in fibre, devoid of saturated fats, added sugar and salt and high in whole grains can help keep your heart strong and healthy. Managing risk factors for heart attack is also advisable. (Also read: Tabassum of Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan fame dies at 78)

“In elderly, we have to identify the risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest, like, diabetes, high BP, smoking, previous heart attacks, weak heart. If any of these are present, a cardiologist’s consultation should be taken who would conduct simple tests like ECG, Echo and TMT to ascertain risk of sudden cardiac arrest. If the risk is high, they should be counselled to control their diabetes, blood pressure, and regular medical check-ups to detect any red flags,” says Dr. Nishith Chandra, Principal Director – Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla Road, New Delhi.

What is sudden cardiac arrest

The abrupt loss of respiration, awareness, and heart function is known as a sudden cardiac arrest.

“Typically, the illness is caused by an issue with the heart’s electrical system, which interferes with heart’s pumping motion and prevents blood flow to the body. Sudden cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack. But occasionally a heart attack might cause an electrical disruption that results in a sudden cardiac arrest,” says Dr Chandra.

It is important to take prompt action in case of sudden cardiac arrest as it’s highly fatal.

“Sudden cardiac arrest can result in death if it is not immediately addressed. With prompt, effective medical care, survival is feasible. The likelihood of surviving until help arrives can be increased by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), utilising a defibrillator, or even just applying chest compressions,” says the cardiologist.

“The shortage of oxygen-rich blood when the heart stops can result in death or irreversible brain damage within minutes. When you’re assisting someone who is unconscious and not breathing, time is of the essence,” he adds.

What to do in case of sudden cardiac arrest

Dr Chandra says the following can be done if you observe someone who is unconscious and not breathing normally:

– Contact emergency medical services If a phone is nearby and you can use it right away, call before starting CPR.

– Apply CPR. Quickly assess the individual’s breathing. Start CPR if the person isn’t breathing regularly. Attempt to compress the person’s chest at a rate of 100–120 compressions per minute.

– If you have received CPR training, make sure the person can breathe by checking their airway after every 30 compressions.

– Just keep performing chest compressions if you are untrained. Let the chest expand.

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