Breaking the Stigma: Understanding the Gender Divide in Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Pregnancy, Mental Health, and Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Women

Every year, around 350,000 individuals experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting, with almost 90 percent of cases resulting in death. Surprisingly, 40 percent of these episodes involve women. While men and women may exhibit different symptoms of heart disease, the risks associated with sudden cardiac arrest also vary based on gender.

Sudden cardiac arrest can occur in any adult, especially those aged 30 and above. Factors such as family history, risk factors, and congenital heart defects can contribute to the likelihood of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. This condition arises from an irregular heartbeat known as an arrhythmia, which causes the heart to stop beating or lose electrical activity completely, resulting in the affected person displaying no breathing or pulse.

Sarah Shoemaker, a certified nurse midwife at OSF HealthCare, advises pregnant women contemplating the safety of medications like Zoloft or Prozac to discuss their concerns with a healthcare provider early on, preferably before conception. If adjustments are necessary, providers may introduce supplements as needed. Some women spend years finding the right medication combination to maintain stability and health. In such cases, providers aim to minimize disruptions to established medication regimens by relying on a case-by-case evaluation of the benefits and risks.

Nancy Dagefoerde emphasizes that sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack because it occurs when there is no blockage in the coronary artery surrounding the heart but instead is caused by an arrhythmia that stops or interrupts normal electrical activity in the heart muscle cells. The symptoms can include sudden collapse or loss of consciousness and no breathing or pulse. Women are just as likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest as men despite some differences in symptoms between genders due to hormonal variations that affect blood vessels and circulation patterns.

In conclusion, sudden cardiac arrest is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention when it occurs outside of a hospital setting. It affects both men and women but has different risk factors based on gender. Pregnant women should consult their healthcare provider before taking any medication that could have negative effects on their developing baby’s health.

It’s crucial for individuals who suspect they may be at risk for sudden cardiac arrest to seek medical attention promptly and work closely with their healthcare provider to develop an effective treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.

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