A Brief Explanation of Some Heart Stuff

Okay, kids, here’s a little medical lesson for the day…

The vast majority of the time the media has no idea what it’s talking about when reporting medical events.  Just assume they are either getting the details wrong or using the wrong terminology.  It was decades ago, when I realized how incorrectly most medical stories were reported, that I figured the media were probably getting a LOT of the news wrong in general and I stopped taking most of what I heard at “face value”.  A doctor I worked for was interviewed for a radio piece because a famous person was having the sort of procedure done that this doctor did.  Not only did they get the doctor’s name wrong, they explained the procedure incorrectly and pronounced the name of the procedure incorrectly.  I shook my head the entire way through the “story” and purposed in my heart to question the media all the time in the future.

That’s the general lesson for the day.  Now for the specific lesson…

1)  When someone tells you that a person died from a)  cardiac arrest, or even more impressively, b)  cardiopulmonary arrest, all this means is that they died because a)   their heart stopped beating effectively enough to support life (or stopped altogether), or, in the case of b)  their heart and lungs stopped working.  EVERYONE who dies, let me repeat that, EVERYONE who dies, suffers from cardiac arrest/cardiopulmonary arrest.  Period.  If your heart is beating you are alive, even if you are “brain dead”.  You can suffer a respiratory arrest, which left uncorrected ALWAYS leads to a cardiac arrest.  Also, if a person is in cardiac arrest they are not breathing, which is a respiratory, or pulmonary, arrest.

2)  Cardiac arrest is not the same as heart failure which is not the same as a heart attack.  These are three separate entities.  They CAN be found in conjunction with one another, but one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other, and because one suffers one it doesn’t mean it was caused by the other.

A cardiac arrest is exactly what it sounds like.  The heart stops, or arrests.  This is incompatible with life.

Heart failure is when part or all of the heart ceases to operate well leading to inadequate pumping which in turn leads to a build up of fluids and decreased oxygenation.  A person with heart failure is sick or compromised to varying degrees.  This can be a chronic condition, or an acute (sudden onset) condition, or a chronic (longstanding) condition with an acute exacerbation.

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is when the blood supply to the heart itself is disrupted (by a clot, or occlusion from coronary artery disease or  a spasm) and part of the heart muscle dies.  This is an acute condition.  Depending on the vessel involved and the degree of blood supply disruption it can be mild to severe. 

Angina is a term which basically means chest pain.  It is heart pain caused by a diminished oxygen supply to a part of the heart.   A person can have angina in the absence of a heart attack.  A person can have a heart attack in the absence of angina.

In addition to the above terms, you should know about SCA, or Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  This is when the heart simply stops beating in a manner which supports life.  This is usually attributed to a direct blow to the chest or to an electrical conduction abnormality. 

The treatments/interventions for each of these conditions can vary.  A person with a heart attack does not need CPR until they suffer a cardiac arrest.  A person with a cardiac arrest has not necessarily had a heart attack.  A person with heart failure may go into cardiac arrest.  A person who suffers a heart attack may well go into heart failure.  A person with heart failure may suffer a heart attack.  A person with respiratory arrest needs to have that problem addressed.  Solving the lack of oxygen problem keeps the person from going into cardiac arrest.  A person with a heart attack needs to have blood flow restored to the heart.  The vessels that are affected need to be opened up.  A person in heart failure needs to have fluids removed and have their heart given meds to work stronger and more effectively.  A person in sudden cardiac arrest needs to be shocked/defibrillated immediately.  CPR alone does not bring a person out of sudden cardiac arrest.

It’s probably because I’m a nurse, but it really makes me insane to hear the illumati in the media discuss medical stuff that they clearly haven’t done a picogram of homework on.  They sound stupid and they don’t even know it.

The reason I am posting this is because of the recent death of Michael Jackson.  I grew up on Michael’s music and watched with increasing dismay over the years as he morphed into someone I ceased to recognize.  He must have been a much tormented individual.  He lived a very private life.  The cause of death originally reported and reported and reported by the media was “cardiopulmonary arrest”, which means nothing, except that basically the cause of death was death.  The coroner’s job is to determine what lead to the cardiopulmonary arrest.  In the case of Michael Jackson one can speculate to many causes. 

Did he have coronary artery disease (CAD)?  Did he overdose on medications which caused respiratory depression/arrest which lead to cardiac arrest?  Did he do some sort of drug that caused spasms in his coronary arteries?  Did he have a cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat) that caused clots which blocked his arteries?  Did he have hypertension, high cholesterol, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease???  Did he have some sort of inflammatory condition?  Did he have NONE of these issues and did he suffer a sudden cardiac arrest?

I don’t believe that it is important that WE know what happened to him (unless he was given an overdose of meds from a source other than himself or some purposeful crime against him was committed), but it IS important for his children to know in case there is a condition which they might have inherited that they should be screened for and monitored for in the future.

Whatever the report ends up being, listen the words of the coroner’s report, and NOT the interpretation of some media talking head. 

Remember, most of them don’t have a clue what they’re talking about…

This has been a simple overview of basic heart stuff you might want to know.  It is in no way comprehensive.  I hope it helps you be a more informed consumer of the average news story about Michael Jackson and others who suffered “cardipulmonary arrest”.


About Lou (Linda)

Just a girl from Colorado trying to live life to God's glory with a certain amount of gusto! View all posts by Lou (Linda)

7 responses to “A Brief Explanation of Some Heart Stuff

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