Dec 20, '09
older patients generally suffer from coronary artery disease, generally as the result of a lifetime of plaque buildup, which decreases oxygenated blood flow to the heart itself. they generally suffer from cardiac muscle death as the heart is deprived of oxygen by a blockage or clot. this is the classical myocardial infarction (meaning heart muscle cell death) or what we shorthand as mi.
younger patient's generally die from sudden cardiac death, usually brought on by rhythm or electrical disturbances, that causes the heart to stop pumping. the heart muscles at the time are generally full of oxygen but somehow the heart just stops beating. generally, the electrical conduction that regulates perpetuation of heart rhythm is in a state of disarray. this is known as cardiac arrest.
*** sidebar *** further, in young patients with diet issues, potassium regulation is generally very precarious. that alone can trigger a potentially lethal rhythm.
it's a narrow distinction to be sure. but one generally will bring on the other (no matter which is first). an extensive mi can be followed by cardiac arrest, and cardiac arrest is soon followed by heart muscle dying as no more oxygenated blood reaches it.
and yes, it is sad when someone so young, cashes in so early.
Last edit by Emergency RN on Dec 20, '09