Sudden cardiac arrest: The risks you should be aware of

Martek Marine Sudden cardiac arrest: The risks you should be aware of

As a company concerned with helping to ensure the health and safety of workers on ships, we are eager for you to check that you are aware of the factors that can lead to a sudden cardiac arrest. Upon closer scrutiny of the facts, you could realise that many of your workers are at greater risk of sudden cardiac arrest than you currently believe or suspect.

What is a sudden cardiac arrest?

The term “sudden cardiac arrest” refers to when the heart suddenly stops beating. It’s no longer pumping blood around the body, and the individual suffering a sudden cardiac arrest will die unless they receive CPR. Otherwise known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, this technique involves mouth-to-mouth respiration and chest compression that lets oxygenated blood reach vital organs including the brain. CPR can keep the cardiac arrest sufferer alive until a more sophisticated procedure like defibrillation can be used to treat the cardiac arrest.

A sudden cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack; the latter means that the supply of blood to the heart muscle is interrupted, and so that muscle starts dying as it is no longer getting oxygen. Still, a heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest, while other factors could also increase the risk.

Factors that can increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest


As sudden cardiac arrest can be caused by a heart attack, the kind of unhealthy lifestyle that could bring on a heart attack is an obvious risk factor for sudden cardiac arrest. To this end, excessive weight and alcohol consumption, high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, and an unbalanced diet lacking in fruit, vegetables and fish should all be avoided.

However, there are also inherited conditions that can increase the likelihood of sudden cardiac arrest. Christopher Allen, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, says that these conditions can include a muscle problem, whereby “due to a certain condition the heart muscle can become damaged in some way, and may become very thick or stretched, and that can lead to life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms.” Muscle-related conditions to watch out for include dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and ARVC.

You should also be wary of electrical problems. Allen explains: “The heart works on an electrical circuit and if it doesn’t follow the prescribed pathway, or if there’s something wrong with that pathway, it can sometimes lead to cardiac arrest.” Electrical conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest include Brugada syndrome and Long QT syndrome. If you suspect that any of your workers have inherited faulty genes, you could arrange for them to undertake tests.

We can provide even further assistance

We hope that the information in this article can help you to prevent any of the workers on your company’s ships suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. Indeed, here at Martek Marine, we are committed to helping the world’s leading ship operators to protect the people who work on their ships – please get in touch today to find out how we can help you.