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Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lennie Daluz · Updated Jan 05, 2023

    Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know

    Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) or biglang paghinto ng tibok ng puso is a serious condition. It happens following a disturbance in the electrical conduction system of the heart. Which causes it to stop beating, accompanied by loss of breathing and consciousness. Read on to know more about this condition.

    How The Heart Works

    First of all, it is important to briefly describe the heart and how it works. The heart is made up of muscle fibers that contract and relax to pump blood into the body.

    As with any other muscle in the body, the heart requires oxygen to function well. The muscles are also able to beat together as one because of electrical signals that travel through the nerve fibers of the heart.

    Now, we can easily differentiate between a heart attack and SCA, which are terms often used interchangeably but refer to different conditions.

    biglang paghinto ng tibok ng puso

    Heart Attack vs. Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Biglang Paghinto ng Tibok ng Puso

    Most commonly, biglang paghinto ng tibok ng puso is caused by an arrhythmia which is an abnormal heart rhythm that you see when the heart’s electrical system is impaired.

    In contrast, a heart attack happens when a vessel supplying the heart muscle is blocked and the muscle suffers from a lack of oxygen. So, a heart attack is a problem in terms of circulation. While cardiac arrest is a problem in terms of signal conduction. Of course, a heart attack can also lead to cardiac arrest because the heart attack can trigger electrical disturbances.

    The risk factors for both conditions also overlap. Thus, people who have a family history of coronary artery disease, those who have elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, those who are diabetic, obese are at higher risk of suffering both a heart attack and an SCA.

    Possible signs and symptoms that can occur include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, weakness, and palpitations.

    However, it can also occur in asymptomatic patients and those who have undiagnosed cardiac conditions such as:

    Electrical problems in the heart

    Some people have problems with the conduction system itself. Examples of this are people living with Brugada syndrome and long QT syndrome. 

    Valvular heart disease

    The leaking or narrowing of valves in the heart can lead to enlargement of the heart muscle. This places you at higher risk of an arrhythmia, which can lead to SCA or biglang paghinto ng tibok ng puso.

    Congenital defects of the heart

    Children and adolescents who suffer an SCA are more likely to have a congenital heart disease as its cause. Even adults who had congenital defects repaired remain at risk of SCA.

    Coronary artery disease (CAD)

    The buildup of cholesterol in the vessels of the heart is found in most patients who have an SCA. Severe CAD also often leads to a heart attack.

    Heart attack

    As previously mentioned, a heart attack can also lead to SCA, when it triggers electrical disturbances such as ventricular fibrillation. Scar tissue from dead heart muscle can also lead to abnormalities in rhythm because electrical short circuits will try to avoid the scar tissue which cannot transmit electrical signals.

    Because biglang paghinto ng tibok ng puso can cause death, it is important that you go to the emergency department or to your doctor if you feel any of the following:

    • chest pain
    • palpitations
    • shortness of breath
    • unexplained wheezing
    • fainting or near fainting
    • lightheadedness or dizziness

    These may be signs of a heart problem that may require treatment so that it will not lead to cardiac arrest.

    Sometimes, the chest pain and shortness of breath precedes the cardiac arrest or biglang paghinto ng tibok ng puso. It is important to recognize these signs and symptoms because a simple call to your area’s emergency number leading to immediate access to high-quality care in the case of cardiac arrest can save someone’s life.

    Sudden Cardiac Arrest: First Aid

    While SCA will not happen to everyone, it is better to be prepared in case it happens to someone you care about. Learning basic hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) can potentially save someone’s life in case they collapse from an SCA.

    Once a person survives the arrest and makes it to the hospital, medications may be given to stabilize the rhythm of the heart. Long-term treatment would depend on the cause, and may include:

  • medication for managing the heart rhythm, like beta-blockers;
  • a device for controlling the rhythm of the heart called an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD); and
  • procedures like coronary angioplasty or bypass surgery, which improve blood flow to the heart.
  • In terms of prevention, living a healthy lifestyle is a good way to avoid the risk factors that cause many heart diseases. A balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates in the right proportions and amount is important.

    Regular exercise also helps keep your heart in good shape. If you have any heart disease, getting the appropriate treatment for it is a must in order for you to have less chances of suffering from biglang paghinto ng pagtibok ng puso.

    Key Takeaway

    Now you have enough knowledge on sudden cardiac arrest, its causes, symptoms, treatment, and possible prevention measures. Keeping all this in mind, you are also more prepared to act quickly in case someone you know has a sudden cardiac arrest. For further questions or concerns, please reach out to your doctor as soon as possible.

    Learn more about keeping your heart healthy, here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Lennie Daluz · Updated Jan 05, 2023

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