Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac Arrest (CA)

Acronyms Medical

According to AbbreviationFinder, cardiac arrest is always an extremely life-threatening condition for the body. First aid measures must therefore be initiated very quickly in order to restore heart activity. The reasons for a cardiac arrest are very different.

What is cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest is when the heart has stopped beating. As a result, blood circulation no longer takes place, the brain and all other parts of the body, such as organs and limbs, are no longer supplied with blood and thus oxygen.

Cardiac arrest is therefore a highly life-threatening condition that can kill the affected patient within minutes. The heart is controlled by electrical impulses that cause the heart muscles to contract.

As a result, blood circulation takes place, in which the heart pumps blood through the body at a certain rate. If the beat of the electrical impulses is disturbed, cardiac arrest can occur. Cardiac arrest is also referred to as sudden cardiac death in the event of death.


The causes of a cardiac arrest can be very diverse. In many cases, cardiac arrhythmias are the cause. This causes the heart’s natural clock rate to deviate from the norm. Either the muscles of the heart work in the wrong order or they stop working altogether. The result is cardiac arrest.

But other factors can also trigger a cardiac arrest. These include medication, states of shock, accidents that cause suffocation or even electric shocks. Stressful situations and unusual physical exertion (e.g. excessive sporting activities) can also trigger cardiac arrest. While the cause of cardiac arrest in the case of suffocation is the lack of oxygen supply, a disturbance in the heart rhythm is responsible for all other factors.

In medically necessary cases, cardiac arrest can also be induced artificially. This is often used in special heart operations.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Cardiac arrest is often caused by longstanding heart disease. Nevertheless, a cardiac arrest does not necessarily cause symptoms in advance. Possible warning signs that may herald cardiac arrest include shortness of breath and chest pain that may radiate to the left arm or lower jaw. Many sufferers feel an increasing tightness in the chest area.

A general feeling of weakness often occurs. Dizziness and fainting may occur shortly before cardiac arrest, which typically resolves quickly and then recurs. These symptoms are often accompanied by sweating and a strong malaise that quickly increases in intensity. The actual cardiac arrest is expressed by the fact that the person concerned suddenly collapses and no longer reacts to speech and pain stimuli.

The person concerned then loses consciousness and ultimately dies of cardiac arrest if emergency medical treatment is not given immediately. The symptoms of cardiac arrest are non-specific and do not occur in all sufferers. Cardiac arrest often occurs without warning, but in other cases it is preceded by a period of chest pain and difficulty breathing. An impending cardiac arrest can usually not be detected externally.

Diagnosis & History

Cardiac arrest must be diagnosed very quickly to save the victim from death. In most cases, the person affected suddenly loses consciousness . The patient can therefore no longer express any complaints and the people present must act quickly and in a considered manner.

If you suddenly become unconscious, you should always call 911. It should state clearly that this is an extreme emergency in which the patient has lost consciousness and cardiac arrest is suspected.

Cardiac arrest is usually very easy to detect, even for laypersons: there is no longer a heartbeat, so there is no pulse and the patient is no longer breathing. As a result of these factors, the affected person loses consciousness and is no longer able to speak. After that, first aid measures are very important for the survival of the patient.


Cardiac arrest is itself a complication and usually leads to death if left untreated. Cardiac arrest only goes away on its own in very rare cases. As a rule, the victim dies after just a few minutes if no first-aid measures are taken. A cardiac massage must be performed to revive the patient.

In most cases, patients lose consciousness prior to cardiac arrest and fall, which can result in serious injury. Cardiac arrest is diagnosed relatively quickly and easily due to the absence of a pulse, so that treatment can begin at an early stage. A defibrillator is also used for resuscitation. However, it can never be generally predicted whether or not the patient can be resuscitated after cardiac arrest.

The longer the standstill lasts, the lower the probability of a revival. The internal organs are damaged by the lack of oxygen. This can lead to consequential damage and serious complications even after the cardiac arrest has been treated. Life expectancy is severely limited and also depends on the treatment of the cardiac arrest.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the event of a cardiac arrest, the emergency services must be called immediately. First aid measures must be taken before the emergency doctor arrives. A longer hospital stay is then always indicated. Regular check-ups must then be carried out in order to identify complications at an early stage and to ensure a positive healing process. Ideally, the first signs of cardiac arrest should be clarified and treated by a doctor.

Patients who have heart disease or are otherwise at increased risk of cardiac arrest should see a doctor if they experience shortness of breath, general weakness, and sudden chest pain. At the latest when a feeling of tightness occurs, combined with other symptoms such as inner restlessness and heart palpitations, medical advice is required. The person concerned must immediately go to a hospital or seek emergency medical care. In addition to the family doctor, a cardiologist can also be consulted. In the case of serious illnesses, a therapeutic consultation is also useful. A cardiac arrest always requires comprehensive investigation and treatment. Otherwise there is an acute danger to life.

Treatment & Therapy

In the event of a cardiac arrest, very rapid treatment is extremely important to ensure the patient’s survival. If the heart stands still, the body, the brain and all organs are no longer supplied with blood and oxygen. This is a highly life-threatening situation. Correct and targeted action is therefore crucial for the survival of the patient.

Since a cardiac arrest is usually very easy to recognize, it is not a problem to take immediate action. After the persons present have called the emergency number, first aid measures should be started immediately. This includes a cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which should be performed until emergency services arrive. In the event of a cardiac arrest, it is the only way to continue to supply the brain and organs with oxygen and thus prevent them from dying. Without attempts at resuscitation, you risk the patient’s death within minutes.

After the paramedics arrive, they will attempt to restore cardiac activity. A defibrillator is often used for this purpose. This device delivers electric shocks to the heart, which can cause the heart to start beating again.

During all the measures carried out, cardiac massage and ventilation will continue to be carried out to prevent body parts from dying. When the patient regains consciousness, and with it the heart has resumed its activity, hospitalization is prescribed. The patient is closely monitored and the cause of the cardiac arrest is also sought. Depending on the reason for the cardiac arrest, further therapy may be necessary to prevent further incidents.

Outlook & Forecast

Cardiac arrest is a life-threatening condition and will result in death if the patient cannot be helped within minutes. Either first aid has to be given on the spot, or the treating doctor is nearby and can use a defibrillator to get the stopped heart beating again.

If it is possible to reverse the cardiac arrest, the blood circulation starts again and the patient wakes up either immediately or within the next few minutes and hours. If no help is available, the heart may not start beating again on its own and the patient may die. Depending on what triggered the cardiac arrest and the state of health of the person affected, it is not unlikely that further cardiac arrests will occur. Each time there is a risk that the heart will not start beating again and the patient will later die.

Therefore, inpatient admission with close monitoring and monitoring is important, and medication must also be administered. This greatly increases a person’s long-term chances of survival after cardiac arrest and makes them more likely to recover. If he has been defibrillated, he will still experience mild to moderate pain for a few hours or days. The intensity depends on the current strength that was necessary to reverse the cardiac arrest.


There is no such thing as 100% prevention of cardiac arrest. It is not uncommon for people who appear absolutely healthy, do a lot of sport and lead a healthy life to be affected. However, there are risk factors such as obesity, smoking and an unhealthy lifestyle. Frequent stress should also be avoided as it increases the risk of heart disease.


The acute treatment is regularly followed by a rehabilitation period lasting several days. Doctors, psychologists, nutritionists and physiotherapists look after those affected. Risk factors for renewed cardiac arrest should be ruled out as far as possible. The areas of exercise, nutrition and psychological and social perception are discussed. At home, it is then a matter of putting what you have learned into practice in everyday life.

Patients bear a high degree of personal responsibility for this. Smoking is the number one risk factor. In order to realize a change in life, the exchange with like-minded people has proven itself. Practical tips can be discussed in small groups. Prevention is therefore of crucial importance for a symptom-free life.

In addition to avoiding triggering factors, drug treatment plays an important role. It is not uncommon for beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and acetylsalicylic acid to be taken for the rest of one’s life. The aim is to make the heart work more efficiently, lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting.

The prescription substances are sometimes associated with side effects. It is therefore advisable to have regular follow-up visits with your doctor. Internists and cardiologists in particular are suitable contacts. They do a heart and blood test. The anamnesis should rule out risk factors.

You can do that yourself

In cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating. The blood circulation breaks down and the brain and all other organs are no longer supplied with blood and oxygen. Cardiac arrest is life-threatening. The victim himself is unconscious and relies on those around him to take suitable rescue measures immediately.

In the event of cardiac arrest, an ambulance must be called immediately. After making an emergency call, adequate first aid measures should be taken immediatelybe initiated. One of the central measures is cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which must not be interrupted until the rescue workers arrive. The first thing to check is that the airway is clear and not blocked by vomit or debris. Only then is the patient laid flat on his back and chest compressions combined with mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose resuscitation are started. During resuscitation, the palm of the hand is pressed against the sternum, which puts pressure on the heart. The pressing movement is repeated 30 times, after which an attempt is made to supply air to the patient through the nose or mouth.

The social environment of high-risk patients who have already suffered cardiac arrest or a heart attack should familiarize themselves with the method of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In the event of a cardiac arrest, the survival of the person affected depends on being able to safely master this measure.

Cardiac Arrest