Some underlying diseases or incidents might cause sudden death, and the cause isn’t usually obvious right away. Several frequent reasons for unexpected death include:

  • Cardiac arrhythmias: Abrupt cardiac arrest and death can result from irregular heart rhythms such as ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. Electrolyte imbalances, underlying cardiac diseases, and other reasons may cause these arrhythmias.
  • Coronary artery disease: When there is a significant compromise in the blood supply to the heart muscle, blockages in the coronary arteries can result in myocardial infarctions, or heart attacks, which can cause sudden death.
  • Thickening of the heart muscle is the hallmark of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic disorder that can interfere with the heart’s electrical function and cause sudden cardiac arrest, especially when physical activity is involved.
  • An abnormality of the heart’s structure: If a problem affects the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently, such as heart valve disorders or congenital heart defects, the risk of sudden cardiac death increases.
  • Stroke: If critical brain regions are injured, affecting important activities like breathing or heart rate, a stroke, either haemorrhagic (caused by bleeding in the brain) or ischemic (caused by clogged blood arteries), can result in abrupt death.
  • Substance overdose: Excessive consumption of drugs, whether legal or illicit, can cause cardiac rhythms, respiratory depression, seizures, and other consequences that can be fatal quickly.
  • Severe allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal if the respiratory system or cardiovascular system collapses.
  • Electrocution: Unintentional contact with high-voltage electrical currents has the potential to result in rapid cardiac arrest and death.

There are numerous other possible reasons for unexpected death; these are but a handful. To identify the reason and administer the necessary care, someone experiencing a sudden collapse or loss of consciousness must get medical attention as soon as possible.

 

Prevention

To prevent sudden death, it is important to address underlying risk factors and implement lifestyle modifications and interventions that support heart health and general well-being. Here are some key strategies for preventing sudden death:

 

  • Regular medical check-ups: Make an appointment with a healthcare professional regularly to have your blood pressure, cholesterol, and general heart health checked. The risk of cardiovascular events can be decreased by early identification and treatment of risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension.
  • Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Limit your consumption of salt, cholesterol, trans fats, and saturated fats. To maintain a healthy weight and increase cardiovascular fitness, try to get frequent exercise, such as cycling, swimming, or brisk walking.
  • Avoiding tobacco: Since smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease and sudden cardiac death, give up smoking and keep yourself away from second-hand smoke.
  • Drinking too much alcohol: This might raise your risk of heart rhythm abnormalities and other cardiovascular issues, so try to keep your intake to a modest amount.
  • Managing stress: Use methods to assist in controlling stress and encourage relaxation, such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or time spent in nature.
  • Frequent physical activity: This can strengthen the heart muscle, increase cardiovascular fitness, and reduce the risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death. Health standards recommend aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise every week.
  • Knowledge of family history: Since genetics can influence your risk, it’s important to know if there is a history of heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases in your family. Talk to your healthcare professional about any family history of heart issues and heed their advice for screening and preventive actions.
  • Being prepared for emergencies requires knowing how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In situations of abrupt cardiac arrest, prompt bystander intervention with CPR and defibrillation can greatly increase the prognosis.

You can lower your chance of unexpected death and enhance your general health by implementing these preventive actions and maintaining a proactive approach to heart health.

 

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Procedure

CPR is an emergency lifesaving first aid technique that is done when someone’s breathing or heart beat stops. It is recommended by the American Heart Association that untrained persons and medical professionals should begin CPR procedure with chest compression. 

CPR Steps     

·         Check that the area is safe for the person

·         Confirm if the person is conscious or unconscious

·         If such person is unconscious, shake his or her shoulder and ask, Are you OK

·         If the person is not responding, call 911 or local emergency number immediately before the start of CPR

·         Get AED (Automated External Defibrillator) ready if available. This can be found in offices or public places such as schools, shopping malls, grocery stores and airports.

·         Perform 30 chest compressions (Place the person carefully on his or her back and kneel next to the neck and shoulder, tilt their head backwards by raising the chin, place the heel of your hand on the center of the person’s chest and place the second hand on the first, clasp both hands together and push harder and faster in the center of the chest at least 2 inches deep

                                                             

·         Perform two rescue breath (Open the mouth of the person and make sure it is clear, gently tilt head and lift chin, pinch nostril shut for breathing and cover your mouth with theirs. Give the first rescue breat h for a second to make the chest rise. If the chest rises, apply the second breath. If the chest does not rise after the first breath, tilt the head slightly again, lift chin and give the second breath. Avoid breathing with too much force.

                                                                      

·         Repeat the 30 chest compression for circulation to be restored. Immediately the AED machine arrives, follow the instruction and apply one shock. Continue with the CPR by applying the chest compression for another one to two minutes before you proceed to give the second shock. If you can’t use the AED machine, continue with the chest compression until the person starts breathing or the arrival of emergency medical professional.

 

How To Operate an AED (Automated External Defibrillator)

                                                                 

·         Turn on the instrument and follow the instruction. Some types of AED switch on automatically once the cover opens.

·         There are two sticky pads with sensor in the equipment.

·         Expose the chest of the person. If wet, dry chest

·         Attach one pad with sensor to the chest above the breast and the second pad on the lower left chest below the armpit.

·         The sensor sends a signal about the heart rhythm of the person to a processor in the AED which analyzes to find out whether the electric shock is required. 

·         Make sure no one is touching the person.

·         If the shock is needed, follow the instruction and press the button to deliver the shock. 

American Heart Association advises the following;

·         If you do not have the knowledge of CPR but you desire to save a life, perform 100 to 120 chest compression for a minute until the arrival of paramedics. There is no need trying rescue breath

·         If you are well trained, all you need to confirm is that such person is still breathing. If there is no breathing or pulse within 10 seconds, then perform chest compression before you apply two rescue breath

·         If you are trained but not sure of your abilities, just perform chest compression for 100 to 120 a minute.

 

References

  1. American Heart Association. (2020). Healthy Living. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living.
  2. American Heart Association. (2020). Warning Signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cardiac-arrest/sudden-cardiac-arrest-warning-signs.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Heart Disease Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm.
  4. Complications from diabetes 2020. https://www.health.com/condition/type-2-diabetes/diabetes-complications-death.
  5. High blood pressure symptoms and causes. (2020)  https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm.
  6. Mayo Clinic. (2022). Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sudden-cardiac-arrest/symptoms-causes/syc-20350634.
  7. Prevent high blood pressure. Be physically fit. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/prevent.htm.
  8. Pomona valley health center. The Importance of Regular checkups. https://mypvhc.com/importance-regular checkups/#:~:text=Regular%20check%2Dups%20can%20help,treatment%20quickly%2C%20avoiding%20any%20complications 
  9. Sudden cardiac arrest. https://www.cardiosmart.org/topics/sudden-cardiac-arrest.
  10. Why people slump and die 2016. https://www.rohsi.org/doctors-explan-people-slump-die/.
  11. Medical News Today. CPR step by step. (2020) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324712#cpr-step-by-step.
  12. Mayo clinic. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-cpr/basics/art-20056600#:~:text=Keep%20your%20elbows%20straight%20and,to%20120%20compressions%20a%20minute.

 

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