Sudden cardiac arrest(SCA) is an electrical disturbance of the heart rhythm that causes the heart to beat very rapidly, chaotic & subsequently may result in death. It generally occurs due to blockage in the blood vessels of the heart. These blockages may result in a decrease in the pumping ability of the heart (left ventricular ejection fraction). As a result of the above, or in some cases even with preserved pumping of the heart, it can cause sudden, chaotic& rapid rhythm – wherein the heart begins to fibrillate. This results in Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Quick and appropriate medical intervention can increase the chances of survival from SCA and prevent Overview Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD). Some people may experience a racing heartbeat or may feel dizzy, alerting them that a potentially dangerous heart rhythm problem may have occurred. In most cases, however, sudden cardiac arrest occurs without prior symptoms.
While the common risk factors for an SCA include coronary heart disease, smoking, consumption of alcohol, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle, SCA and SCD affect men and women differently. According to the American Heart Journal, the incidence of SCD in women is significant, but lower than in men, particularly in the premenopausal and early postmenopausal years. SCD in women is associated more with decreased heart function and myocardial fibrosis (a condition in the later stages of the cardiac disease which can be a factor for SCD) as compared to their male counterparts. There is also a recent study by the Heart Rhythm Center, USA which highlights that women at higher risk for death by nighttime cardiac arrest than men, especially in those suffering from lung disease, COPD, and those taking stress medication or anti-depressants.
How Sudden Cardiac Death Heart Diseases Affect Men And Women Differently:
The biology and physiology of men and women are significantly different, which determines the effect of heart disease on both groups:
Cholesterol Blockages: The deposition of cholesterol in the case of men occurs in the large arteries while in women, it is in the smaller vessels. Since these vessels are small, the symptoms may not be as significant when compared to deposits in the large arteries. Hence SCA can be a silent killer in women.
Lifestyle: Lifestyle changes have increased the incidence of heart diseases in women owing to factors such as stress, unhealthy diets, smoking, consumption of alcohol, obesity, and consumption of oral contraceptives. This has also led to younger women developing heart conditions.
Stress coping mechanisms: Men and women have different stress coping mechanisms. The presence of higher levels of oxytocin in women enables them to cope with stress hormones which increases blood pressure and sugar levels. Also, women cope with stress by emotional responses, as compared to men who often display fight or flight responses.
Experiencing symptoms differently: Men and women experience some of the heart disease-related symptoms differently. Men typically get the classic pattern of angina (chest pain by reduced blood flow to the heart) with pain in the left side of the chest, while women are more likely to have atypical angina, wherein they experience discomfort in the shoulders, back, and neck.
- Leading a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced diet and adequate physical exercise
- Quit Smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Undergoing regular medical check-ups to monitor your heart health
- Keep your BP & Blood sugar under control
- Keep a check on your blood cholesterol levels
- Avoid stress
- Those with a strong family history of heart disease must ensure regular follow-ups
- If you have heart disease with a lower pumping of your heart, discuss with the Best Heart Specialist in Delhi about your risk of SCA since it can be prevented by timely action.