When a heart stops beating, emergency medical crews spring into action with one goal—get it beating again.
But even if all goes according to plan, and spontaneous circulation is restored, is the job of the medical community finished? Conventional healthcare has historically said yes—but groundbreaking research is beginning to shed light on the long and arduous journey that survivors of sudden cardiac arrest still must face.
“Sudden cardiac arrests are very different from other medical events,” says Sachin Agarwal, MD, founder and director of the NeuroCardiac Comprehensive Care Clinic at Columbia University. “The heart gives out, but the brain gives out too.” Even with a full restoration of cardiac function, a feeling of impending doom, depression, survivor’s guilt and other distressing emotions can impede recovery and plague survivors for the rest of their lives.
The goal of Agarwal’s research is to promptly identify and address any neurocognitive and neurological complications and psychosocial problems among survivors, to minimize disability in both the short- and long-term, and to help reintegrate survivors into the community.
Agarwal’s work, as well as new attention to the difficulty that bystander rescuers experience—whether the outcome was a good one or a bad one—has led to a new “6th link” in the cardiac arrest chain of survival—improving survivorship outcomes. This e-book describes new research, community resources and survivor stories surrounding this critical chapter of recovery from sudden cardiac arrest.