What are the first symptoms of cardiac arrest and how can it be recognized?
Sudden cardiac arrest can unfortunately happen without warning symptoms. An abrupt change in heart rhythm causing a cardiac arrest makes an individual lose consciousness, lose muscle tone and stop breathing. Medical first-responders should approach the victim rapidly to check if he or she is responsive. If the individual is not responsive, breathing should be quickly observed. If the individual is only gasping for air without effective breathing movements or if the individual is not breathing at all the first-responder should feel the carotid pulse in the victim’s neck (large blood vessel in the neck which can be felt pulsating when the heart is beating normally) for no more than 10 seconds. The absence of a pulse defines a cardiac arrest situation and should trigger an appropriate emergency response system. Recognition of a cardiac arrest by first-responders on the field should be very prompt in order to call for help and activate an emergency response system without any delays. It is important to know that every minute of delay can make a lifetime difference.
In a number of cases sudden cardiac arrest can be preceded by warning symptoms in the days or the seconds before the event. Those symptoms include having chest pain or discomfort, trouble breathing, feeling that the heart is racing, skipping beats or beating out of sync. Some individuals might be feeling weak, dizzy, lightheaded or faint. It is obviously paramount that individuals who experience such symptoms seek immediate medical attention to further understand and appropriately address their medical situation