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Cardiac arrest, not to be confused with heart attack, is an extreme and sudden medical emergency and condition where the heart stops functioning and there is unexpected loss of breathing and consciousness.


Symptoms are very immediate and drastic, and come without any warning:

  • Sudden collapse
  • No pulse
  • No breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fainting, blackouts, dizziness
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations
  • Vomiting

Risk Factors

Risks factors include:

  • Personal or family history of forms of heart disease
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Drinking
  • Increasing Age
  • Males - two to three times more likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest
  • Drug abuse of cocaine or amphetamines
  • Nutritional imbalance of low potassium or magnesium levels


  • Electrocardiogram
  • Blood tests to check the levels of potassium, magnesium, hormones and other chemicals that may affect your heart's ability to function properly.
  • Imaging tests like chest X-ray, echocardiogram, nuclear scan
  • Other tests like Electrical system (electrophysiological) testing and mapping, Coronary catheterization (angiogram), Ejection fraction testing.


Sudden cardiac arrest requires immediate action for survival like

  • CPR - cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is critical to treating sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Defibrillation.
  • Long-term treatment of medications, implantation of cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) and surgery like coronary angioplasty, coronary bypass surgery, radiofrequency catheter ablation or corrective heart surgery.
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