Incidence of cardiac arrest is on rise in young and several factors like faulty lifestyle choices, underlying heart conditions, family history of an individual or environment factors like pollutants, noise, or extreme heat – could be behind this surge in fatalities. The recent deaths of Pepperfry CEO Ambareesh Murty (51), Bodyguard director Siddique Ismail (69), and actor Vijay Raghavendra’s wife Spandana (45) are confirmed or suspected to be due to cardiac arrest. (Also read: Sudden cardiac arrest during sleep: Why people die in sleep and how to prevent this heart condition)
More than ever before, it’s important to focus all our attention on heart health and what factors could be affecting it. Covid has also said to play a havoc on our heart health as the virus affects coagulation of blood or blood clotting. The blood clots can travel to arteries or veins in the heart and manifest into a heart attack which could lead to death. Covid also led to temporary or lasting damage to heart tissue which could also affect cardiac health.
It is important to take heart-healthy measures to ensure each one of us live a longer and disease-free life. A series of lifestyle modifications like a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise, sleeping well and avoiding stress must be made for improving heart health.
In this article, let’s understand what cardiac arrest is and the common causes behind it. Also, find required lifestyle changes that can really be game-changer for your heart as suggested by experts.
What is a cardiac arrest?
“Cardiac arrest is a sudden, unexpected loss of heart function. It occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating effectively. This can lead to death if it is not treated immediately,” says Dr. Srinivasa Prasad B V, Consultant – Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.
“Heart (or cardiac) diseases are the most common cause of death and disability among adults in India. Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of sudden death, and in the majority of cases, it is due to an acute heart attack or dangerous arrhythmia triggered by blockages in the vessels supplying the heart muscle. The buildup of plaque causing these blockages is usually due to risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, or the presence of a strong family history of heart disease. Sometimes, acute heart attacks are precipitated by extreme stress on the body in people who have these blockages, which may have been silent until that point,” says Dr Vivek Chaturvedi, HoD, Dept of Adult Cardiology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
Common causes of cardiac arrest
The most common cause of cardiac arrest is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This narrowing can lead to a heart attack, which can cause cardiac arrest, says Dr. Srinivasa Prasad. He also explains other common causes of cardiac arrest.
Arrhythmias: These are abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to cardiac arrest. Arrhythmias can be caused by a number of factors, including heart disease, electrolyte imbalances, and drug use.
Heart failure: This is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Heart failure can be caused by a number of factors, including coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and hypertension.
Cardiomyopathy: This is a disease of the heart muscle that can weaken the heart and make it more likely to go into cardiac arrest. Cardiomyopathy can be caused by a number of factors, including genetic defects, infections, and alcohol abuse.
Congenital heart defects: These are heart defects that people are born with. They can increase the risk of cardiac arrest, especially in young people.
Smoking: Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels and increases the risk of cardiac arrest. Both active and passive smoking can increase the risk of cardiac arrest.
Alcohol abuse: Heavy alcohol use can damage the heart and increase the risk of cardiac arrest.
Possible cause of Pepperfry CEO’s death
“The sad demise of My Murthy in Leh suggests that the harsh conditions prevailing at high altitudes with low oxygen may have triggered this event. It is recommended that we follow a heart-healthy lifestyle to avoid or minimize the buildup of plaque. Furthermore, individuals who have such risk factors or known heart disease, as well as those who are sedentary or obese, should undergo a medical check-up before visiting places with harsh and unfavorable conditions,” says Dr Chaturvedi.
Lifestyle changes to reduce risk of cardiac arrest
Dr. Srinivasa Prasad suggests measures to take care of your heart and avoid cardiovascular issues:
Eat a healthy diet
This includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A healthy diet can help to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, all of which are risk factors for cardiac arrest.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Exercise can help to strengthen the heart and improve its function.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of cardiac arrest. Maintaining a healthy weight can help to reduce this risk.
Get enough sleep
Adults need around 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of cardiac arrest.
Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use
Smoking and excessive alcohol use are both major risk factors for cardiac arrest. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake can help to reduce your risk.
Stress can contribute to heart disease and cardiac arrest. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation, can help to reduce your risk.
Get regular checkups
This is important for detecting and treating heart disease early. If you have any risk factors for cardiac arrest, it is important to talk to your doctor about getting regular checkups.
“Such deaths due to cardiac arrest are a stark reminder of the urgency in understanding this alarming trend. Cardiac arrest, a sudden and life-threatening event, is often triggered by a combination of factors. Common culprits include underlying heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), and structural abnormalities. Lifestyle factors like poor diet, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and excessive stress can significantly heighten the risk. To mitigate this growing concern, individuals must prioritize heart health through regular medical check-ups, adopting heart-healthy diets rich in fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains, engaging in regular exercise, managing stress through relaxation techniques, and abstaining from smoking,” says Dr Praveen P Sadarmin, Consultant- Cardiology, Narayana Health City, Bangalore.