Recently, we witnessed a very tragic incident; the demise of “people’s president”, “the missile man of India”, one of the eminent scientist of India, the Bharat Ratna- Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam.  We all know that while delivering a lecture in Shillong he suffered a massive cardiac arrest; he could not recover thereafter & succumbed to his ailment.

Do all know what cardiac arrest is? It is a common misconception that a cardiac arrest and a heart failure are more or less similar but mind you both are totally different entities.  In this article I will try to percolate these two things in your mind & if you already know about this, I hope this post may increase your knowledge further.

As we know the function of the heart is to pump blood.  It supplies blood to all the organs of our body.  Imagine is you will the heart to be like a pump which supplies water to all the taps in our home.
Before understanding what a heart failure is, let us throw some light on the concept of cardiac output.
Stroke volume – is amount of blood that the heart ejects per beat & the product of stroke volume & number of heart beats per minute is cardiac output.  Thus, Cardiac Output = Stroke volume X No. of beats per min.
Heart failure – is a condition in which the heart does not adequately pump the blood in order to meet the demand of body, i.e. inadequate cardiac output.
You can understand in this way that if previously brain was receiving 50% blood & kidney 40%, now after failure brain just receiving 20% & kidney 10% of blood.
Thus, heart is pumping but ineffectively or in other words the heart is unable to fulfill the body’s demand for blood.  Gradually the symptoms in patient will appear & if not treated it can lead to death of the patient as organs will stop functioning due to the lack of blood and oxygen (as we all know that blood supplies oxygen to all organs).

Cardiac arrest describes the sudden & complete loss of cardiac output due to improper electrical activity of heart.
The heart beats by itself.  The electrical stimulus to the heart to contract is provided by SA node located in the right atrium.  The SA node acts like the pacemaker of the heart.
This electrical stimulus is transmitted to atrium -> inter ventricular septum & then the ventricles.
In a cardiac arrest this electrical activity is affected resulting in a sudden stoppage of the beating of heart & thereby complete loss of cardiac output.
The clinical diagnosis is based on the victim being unconscious & pulseless.  Death is virtually inevitable unless effective treatment is given promptly.
I have tried to cover these 2 huge topics in a very simple. I hope that at least the definition of this two is clear.  Hope I have done enough justice…….

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