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Minimizing the risks of brain injury from cardiac arrest

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2016 | Brain Injuries

Undergoing cardiac arrest can be terrifying for Massachusetts patients. Persons in cardiac arrest need to receive immediate treatment to increase their chances of survival and minimize the possibility of severe long-term effects, such as brain injuries.

According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cardiac diseases are among the leading causes of cardiac arrest. During cardiac arrest, patients commonly may acquire brain damage as a result of hypoxia, or a deficiency in oxygen supply. Currently, more patients survive resuscitation because of improved technologies and capabilities to respond to cardiac arrest; however, growing success in resuscitation is paired with an increasing number of individuals who suffer hypoxic brain damage following cardiac arrest, which has long-term consequences for patients’ well-being.

WebMD notes that during cardiac arrest, the heart is unable to keep pumping normally because of a disruption from unusual electrical activity. Breathing and blood circulation cease, and, therefore, the flow of oxygen to the brain is cut off.

During a sudden cardiac arrest, administering CPR can help to maintain crucial blood flow to prevent hypoxic brain damage. If the medical team is not yet on the scene, witnesses should look for an automated external defibrillator, which is a device often located in public spaces. The AED may normalize the patient’s heart rhythm by delivering an electric shock to the chest area.

It is important for patients to respond proactively to any warning signs of impending cardiac arrest. Anyone experiencing pain or discomfort in the chest, back, jaw, jaw, arms or neck should seek medical assistance. Another serious symptom is shortness of breath that cannot be explained. At-risk populations should consider seeking screening to identify potential warning signs.

Risk factors include a family history of cardiac arrest or preexisting heart conditions, such as congenital heart defects and cardiomyopathy, which results from a thickening or enlargement of the heart muscle. Among people over the age of 35, coronary artery disease is a common danger sign. Student athletes have also been found to be a group at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.