Steep rise in cases of sudden cardiac arrest post COVID; experts say prevention is possible

According to research published in American Heart Journal, it has been observed that there is a 13 per cent increase in Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) among those aged the mid-30s to mid-40s. Indians contract heart disease 10 years earlier than their western counterparts, making it one of the biggest issues faced by India’s public health system. To minimise the burden of SCA’s and other Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD’s) various awareness drives and initiatives have been taken to promote preventive measures that can help people live healthier lives.


There’s been a steep rise in the number of recovered COVID-19 patients suffering from heart problems like sudden palpitation, chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, heart-swelling, low pump capacity (low ejection fraction) and blood clotting. Cardiovascular diseases cause 20.3 per cent of deaths in men and 16.9 per cent of deaths in women worldwide. The mortality rate is higher in women than in men, yet heart disease and related risk factors are often overlooked in women.

Symptoms Dr Rajesh Sharma, senior cardiologist, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital said that SCA happens without a warning, bringing heart to a standstill. It occurs because erratic heartbeats triggered by an electrical malfunction stops the heart from pumping blood to the body. SCA leads to death if not intervened within the first six minutes. The human heart beats at 60-100 beats per minute and any fluctuation in this rate, either too slow or too fast is referred to as cardiac arrhythmia. Therefore, those experiencing a sudden increase in heart rate or those who are genetically prone to heart diseases can experience a fatal arrhythmia

The management of SCA involves crucial step of performing a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) within the first 6 minutes. This can greatly improve the chances of survival as it immediately restarts heart and provides blood supply to the brain. People who are contracting SCA mostly show immediate signs that may be drastic in nature. One may often experience sudden weakness or wariness with erratic heart palpitations, pain, or discomfort in the chest may be followed by a shortness of breath.

Other severe symptoms while experiencing an SCA may include sudden collapsing, a negligible pulse with no signs of breathing, and loss of consciousness. 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 affects men and women differently. Prevention and treatment Most heart diseases can be prevented and fatalities like SCA may never occur if one is mindful of the lifestyle he or she is leading. A sedentary lifestyle involving consuming alcohol, regular smoking, obesity, intake of unhealthy diets, inadequate amount of sleep, undertaking immense stress, and repeated use of oral contraceptives can contribute to the development of various heart diseases. “Therefore it is important to follow a healthy lifestyle that involves a balanced diet, a healthy sleep cycle, engaging in daily workouts, taking less stress during work hours and avoiding indulging in consuming too much alcohol, and refraining from smoking or drugs,” Dr Sharma said in conclusion.

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