Cardiac Arrest
Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac Arrest: Definition, 5 Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Cardiac arrest definition

Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition when the heart stops beating suddenly. The condition can be characterized by loss of consciousness and stopping breathing.

The condition occurs due to an electrical disturbance in the heart, which causes the heart pump to stop. As a result, blood flow throughout the body also stops.

Sudden cardiac arrest can result in permanent brain damage to death. Therefore, this condition needs to be addressed immediately. Immediate help in the form of CPR and cardiac shock can help prevent these consequences.

What causes cardiac arrest?

In contrast to heart attacks caused by blockages of blood vessels, sudden cardiac arrest is caused by a heart rhythm disorder, precisely ventricular fibrillation disease.

Ventricular fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder that causes the heart ventricle to vibrate only, not beat to pump blood, causing the heart to stop abruptly.

Sudden cardiac arrest is more at risk from people who already have heart disease before, such as:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
  • Heart valve disorders
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Marfan Syndrome.

Cardiac arrest risk factors

Cardiac arrest is a condition that can affect anyone of any age and race. However, there are various factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing this condition.

However, people who have one or all of the risk factors will not necessarily experience cardiac arrest. There are some cases where the patient has only one risk factor, or none at all.

Here are some of the risk factors that trigger a person to experience cardiac arrest:

Getting older age

This condition tends to be more easily occurred in elderly people, between 45 to 75 years of age. This is because over time the health of the heart and its function will decrease.

Male gender

If you are male, your risk of developing this condition is higher than that of women.

Have had a heart attack

As many as 75% of sudden cardiac arrest cases are related to the occurrence of a heart attack. A person’s risk of having a cardiac arrest is higher after 6 months of having a heart attack.

History of coronary artery disease

As many as 80% of sudden heart cases stop are also associated with this disease.

History of ischemic heart disease

One of the main risk factors for cardiac arrest is ischemic heart disease. However, sometimes some people with ischemic heart disease are not aware of the disease, until finally experiencing a heart event stops.

Have had a cardiac arrest before

If you have experienced this condition before, especially if it occurs several times, there is a possibility that you will experience it again next time.

There are family members with a history of cardiac arrest

You also have a greater chance of experiencing this condition if any of your family members have experienced it.

Have suffered from or have a family with a history of arrhythmias

If you or your family have heart rhythm abnormalities, including Long QT syndrome, or Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, your risk of developing the condition is higher.

History of congenital heart defects

If you have had an abnormal heart or blood vessels since birth, chances are you can experience this condition.

History of cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy, or dilation of the heart is associated with 10% of cases of cardiac arrest. Therefore, people with this disease also have a greater chance than people with normal hearts.

Overweight or obesity

Being overweight or obese has been shown to be associated with a variety of health problems, especially the heart. People who are obese have a greater chance of suffering from this condition.


Diabetes has also been shown to affect the health of vital organs in the body, including the heart.

Consumption of illegal drugs

You could potentially have a cardiac arrest if you take drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Other risk factors:

  • Rarely exercise and are not actively moving.
  • Have a smo**king habit.
  • Has high cholesterol levels.
  • Have high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Experiencing sleep apnea.
  • Suffers from chronic renal failure.

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

Cardiac arrest is a type of heart disease can occur suddenly. Common cardiac arrest symptoms include:

  • Suddenly the body collapsed.
  • No pulse.
  • Not breathing.
  • Loss of consciousness.

In some cases, before cardiac arrest, there are some symptoms that are felt by the sufferer. Symptoms of cardiac arrest are:

  • Discomfort in the chest (angina).
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Heart palpitations (the sensation of a fast-beating heart).
  • Body weakness.

When to see a doctor?

Cardiac arrest is a very dangerous condition. Therefore, it is necessary for immediate medical treatment. You need to get medical help when experiencing the following cardiac arrest symptoms.

  • Frequent recurrent chest pain.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Heart rate slows down or bradycardia.
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath for no apparent reason.
  • Fainting out or almost fainted.
  • Dizziness.

Each person’s body shows varying signs and symptoms. To get the most appropriate treatment and according to your health condition, immediately contact the nearest doctor.

Cardiac Arrest Diagnosis

By the time the patient arrives at the hospital, the doctor will check if the sufferer is breathing and has a heart rate or not. The doctor will also install a monitor to see the rhythm of the heart. The doctor will first treat the patient until the patient’s condition stabilizes or his heart beats again and returns to breathe, before conducting a follow-up examination.

Once the patient’s condition has stabilized, the doctor will conduct a series of tests to find out the causes and factors that trigger sudden cardiac arrest. The tests include:

Blood test

This blood test is done to look at body chemicals that affect heart function, such as potassium, magnesium, or hormone levels.

X-ray Photos

Photo A chest X-ray is required to check the size and structure of the heart and its blood vessels.


Cardiac ultrasound or echocardiography can assist doctors in identifying parts of the heart that are not functioning properly or are damaged, through sound waves.

Cardiac Catheterization

In cardiac catheterization, the doctor will inject a special dye in the blood vessels leading to the heart, to see if there is a blockage.

Nuclear scans

The test is carried out to check for disorders of the heart’s blood flow and heart function, using radioactive material.

Last Updated on April 11, 2022 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team