Know your risk for cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest often happens without warning, catching both the sufferer and their loved ones off-guard. However, although symptoms may not appear before the cardiac arrest incident occurs, by knowing your risk factors for experiencing it, you can be aware and let your loved ones know to be vigilant as well. Cardiac arrest can result in death in minutes if a sufferer doesn’t receive emergency care right away, so it’s important to know and manage these risk factors.

Previous heart attack
Many people who experience cardiac arrest have had a heart attack in the past. During a heart attack, the heart can become so damaged that the malfunction that causes cardiac arrest is more likely to happen.

Having a family history of massive heart attacks can also increase the risk of experiencing cardiac arrest, even if you have not experienced a heart attack personally.

Rapid heart rate
Before experiencing cardiac arrest, many sufferers have periodic episodes of rapid heart rate. The sensation of a racing heart may come and go without any warning or without any clear reason. For example, you may notice that your heart seems to be racing while you are at rest.

You don’t have to be officially diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm to experience this symptom. However, being diagnosed with any kind of arrhythmia does increase the risk of cardiac arrest.

Low ejection fraction
Ejection fraction, or EF, refers to how much blood your ventricles pump every time your heart beats. If your EF is low, your risk of experiencing cardiac arrest is increased.

Generally, an EF of less than 35% is considered to be low. However, your physician can determine if your EF is low and if your chances are having cardiac arrest are higher than normal.

Cardiac arrest is a serious, life-threatening condition, but the ER at Regional Medical Center of San Jose are here to provide life-saving heart care around the clock. Our cardiovascular department also includes a specialized cardiac electrophysiology lab for treating problems with heart rhythm. For a referral to a cardiac specialist in San Jose, call (888) 762-8881.

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