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Sudden heart attack or cardiac arrest reason

My father was 68yrs old and had no health issues except blood pressure which was controlled. One day he went to another city to meet his retired friends. He travelled almost for 8+hrs via bus. He spoke of having acidity and indigestion since 6pm or so. But he was feeling fine till 12 at midnight when he told of indigestion and heart burn, we wanted to take him to a hosppital then but he said he will tell us if he it does not go away. We all thought its due to exhaustion or bad stomach. He finally agreed to go to hospital at 4am. We reached hospital at 4 30am ,he was still ok but he suddenly started choking and died almost instantaneously in few seconds. Dr tried cpr shock but he could not be revived. We are not able comprehend what exactly could have happened. We feel it was big mistake listening to him and waiting for going to hospital but he did not seem that critical even when we reached the hospital, he was quite normal as he spoke to dr and was waiting for ecg to be taken. We have been trying hard to understand what could have gone wrong that day and was there any hope if things happened differently that day. I have developed pyschiatric issues due to constantly thinking of it. Please provide your perspective.
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Avatar universal
I am so sorry about your father. please, don't ever blame yourself. I was an ICU nurse for 12 years and yet I sat through an entire Thanksgiving dinner with my uncle who ate and drank with all of us and did not announce until after we were finished that he was having shoulder and arm pain and ended up having bypass surgery that night. My husband did cross country historical bus tours years ago and he took huge quantities of nitroglycerin for 3 days before his co-leader insisted that he go to the ER in the next town. He told the doctor he could NOT stay as he had a tour to lead - but he also ended up with bypass surgery the next day! He told me that he thought people "fell to the floor" crying in pain like they do on TV when they had heart attacks! People deny how bad it is and will continue to deny. There was NOTHING that you could have done differently. However, as someone else said - now you know what to look for nd perhaps you can help someone else to overcome that problem.
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Avatar universal
A ride that long with blood pressure issues legs being down before body might have strained his heart. I can't take loony trips in a sitting position or i have probs myself the blood doesn't circulate the way it used to the limbs. Idk if that brought it on but its worth checking into. Sorry to hear about your father both mine are gone and its been yrs but still hurts. Prayers
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Sorry auto correct never corrects the right things lol
20748650 tn?1521032211
All of those treatments sound normal. As does the eyes being open during resuscitation.

By “adrenaline shot to the chest” I am assuming he had an IO line in his sternum. This is a little odd. Adrenaline shots are typically given via IV or via an IO line in the leg; but in any case adrenaline (epinephrine) is a standard part of the protocol.

You can investigate “ACLS cardiac arrest algorithm” for the precise steps that should be taken in any such case and evaluate whether or not they were appropriate.

Again, my more immediate concern for you is post Traumatic stress. PTSD is often associated with war but this is not the case.

PTSD arises from any significant life event like this and is a diagnosis that sounds extremely likely here. It is nothing to be ashamed of and is a diagnosis you’d share with millions of others who have lived through extraordinary circumstances.

This may not be easy to hear but it sounds like, similar to your father, it’s time for you also to recognize that something that may seem minor is potentially serious and at least go in to get checked up for it. I am sure if he was here with us today he would support you in seeking a professional opinion.
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Thanks a lot for your explanations. It really helped me to answer my questions and put a full stop to some of the thoughts. Regarding the adrenaline shots i am not sure as i was escorted outside and i assumed it was chest since they removed his shirt once they rushed to ICU and prepared injections.  

I did go to pyschatrist but his medicines were causing weight gain and also not helping in any way to get rid of the thoughts. So i quit the medication after few months. Now i am feeling better than earlier but those memories just flash atleast once in day and also once before going to sleep. I am moving towards spirituality a bit now as every thing seems very unreal to me (not litteraly) but in broader sense.
Did the psychiatrist diagnose PTSD? Did you explain all of this precisely as you have here? Flashing memories and such? This is quite a textbook sounding case. I hope however you were being treated was proper. This can develop into a real long term issue for you if not properly identified. When was the last time you saw this psychiatrist? Are you open to going again and asking specifically for a PTSD assessment?
Yes. I did talk to my Dr of all symptoms i had. He came up with diagnosis that i have type A personality which creates mental pressure or paranoid behaviour at times. He explained that medicine will help get rid of anxiety and slowly through counseling all issues should get reduced by altering thoughts.

I took depression medicines few years ago due to some work and personal issues , main reason was that due to stress and anxiety i had started smoking and wanted to quit. But it made me gain weight which took 2-3 years to come off also instead of stopping smoking i increased smoking. Finally gave up the medicine after 7-8 months then. But thereafter as work and personal issues got fixed i started feeling better and smoking reduced drastically. I really dont know if i was depressed or just stressed due to the situation. Right now i have developed the right mindset to tackle job or personal issues so i dont think i will  ever land up in same situation.From past 7-8 months i have quit smoking completely thanks to COVID.

My two aunts died of stroke and heart ailments one in her 50s other in her 60s. My grandparents lived above 70s and did not have any heart ailments. What happened to my dad has shocked me apart from the guilt. I think i may have similar destiny waiting for me. Whenever i or someone in familiy have acidity or bad stomach i just prepare myself for the worst. Got a blood pressure device recently. I talked to few friends and colleague who went through similar events and they said it will not go away completely but intensity will lessen as days passes. They think its quite normal to feel what i am feeling.

But can PSTD or depression lead to serious diseases. Right now i am fit all medical reports show ideal nos. At work also i m doing good. Now i feel completely normal but few times in a day i have these thoughts which i am trying to get rid of.
20748650 tn?1521032211
What you are describing, replaying for years and vivid memories of the event sounds PRECISELY like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I am all too familiar with those open eyes. I see a therapist for it. I would suggest you do the same. It helps.
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20748650 tn?1521032211
As for the what happened part:

Cardiac Rhythms. Most instances of sudden cardiac death from a heart attack occur immediately after the heart attack begins or following some very subtle warning signs. It’s rarely dramatic in the time leading up to it.

Once the blockage is complete the heart begins a rhythm such as ventricular fibrillation which causes all blood flow to stop, depriving all of the organs of oxygen to include the brain. This in turn can causes the brain to lose control over those basic functions like breathing giving the appearance of choking or gasping or creating episodes that look like seizures.

This can be treated with CPR and such but generally without opening up the artery and treating the root cause of the problem CPR will not be successful.

As I said the broader problem is just awareness. Patients typically try to determine whether or not they need to visit the hospital based on how bad their symptoms are. Many of these heart attacks initially show up as symptoms that are fairly mild and very quickly escalate into symptoms that are very extreme. To include sudden cardiac death. A big component of why this is the singular leading cause of death in the United States. It’s a silent killer that can creep up on someone with little to no warning
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Thanks for replying. You are right the main problem is that people are not educated well . The symptoms which are quite common like chest pain , sweating or any kind of body pain are only associated with heart attack . The milder ones like indigestion ,acidity or heart burn are not never talked about at all. There is definitely a big problem with current guidelines.

My father was physically very fit and had very healthy life style throughout, he never smoked nor drink. He also had been doing Yoga for 10+years. He had no other health issues and was a very cool and easy going person. Nobody could believe something like this could happen to him. Also this was also a big reason of why none of us not took the symptoms very seriously. I feel extremely sad for not being able to act prudently that day and force him to visit a doctor immediately. That day still rewinds before my eyes and plays all over again till today, its now almost a year now.

Based on your information I think there was still a chance if we could have reached a multi-facility hospital 2-3 hours before. The emergency doctor present at the hospital said to me that it does happen but its very rare and it looked like my father had silent heart attacks before which had already damaged the heart or it was a widow maker heart attack. My father did not have extreme pain or discomfort just seconds before the cardiac arrest but after it my fathers eyes were open without any movement while he was being given CPR and shocks. Also they gave Adrenalin shots to my father's chest after CPR and shocks failed. The doctor said he died at the minute he had cardiac arrest and what they tried was to revive the heart beat and any surgery or treatment can be done only if heart beat returns and patient stabilizes. He also said that usually they try to stabilize a patient before full diagnosis is  complete and risk of cardiac arrest is there even during stabilizing the patient and also one day after the surgery and we can only hope it does not happen. I am not sure whether those are facts or he said so just to console me or may be to justify their actions.  I have heard people surviving even widow maker heart attacks with CPR and shocks but those are usually bit younger patients. Would like to know if the treatment given to my father was OK or few other things could have been tried.
20748650 tn?1521032211
And no, it’s not your fault for listening to him. You can’t force someone to go to the hospital all of the sudden like that.

What can you do? Pick him up and carry him to the emergency room?

What needs to happen is people need to be educated and aware of the symptoms. And they need to take them seriously. That’s a conversation that needs to happen years before the actual heart attack occurs.
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20748650 tn?1521032211
First of all; I am so sorry for your loss!

Unfortunately yes, this does happen. Your story is actually a very common one.

All too often individuals are hesitant about going to the hospital and by the time they finally decide to seek treatment it is already too late!

Nothing you can do will ever bring your father back, but you can use your experience to help other people to not have to experience the same thing. Share your story, spread awareness. Help people to understand that it’s ok to seek treatment and assure them that staff have no problem coming in to work to see them 24/7.

We don’t care if it turns out to be “nothing” we would rather check to be sure rather than have someone’s mother or father pass away due to a preventable illness. Please don’t hesitate, this is what we are paid for and we are happy to do it as many times as necessary.

If you need additional assistance there are grief counselors available as well. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to them for advice. They too are available to you and are happy to assist you 24/7 if that’s what it takes. They genuinely love what they do and have chosen to do this job because they are concerned for the well-being of people in this situation.

What you’re experiencing is completely normal and sometimes it helps to have someone who’s sole focus is to just sit down and listen to what you have to say.
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