Bronny James hospitalized: What is cardiac arrest?

Bronny James, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James, was hospitalized Monday after going into cardiac arrest during basketball practice at the University of Southern California.

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In a statement released Tuesday, the James family said Bronny was in stable condition after leaving the intensive care unit.

Nationwide, more than 356,000 cardiac arrests happen outside hospitals each year, according to the American Heart Association. Health officials say that physical exertion, including the kind of activity seen while participating in competitive sports, can trigger cardiac arrest. However, regular physical activity lowers the risk, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It was not immediately clear what caused Bronny James’ health scare.

Here’s what we know about cardiac arrest:

What is cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest happens when a person’s heart abruptly stops beating, keeping blood from flowing to the brain and other organs, according to the NIH.

The government agency said a person might be experiencing cardiac arrest if they:

  • Collapse suddenly and lose consciousness or pass out.
  • Are not breathing, or if their breathing is ineffective or they are gasping for air.
  • Do not respond to shouting or shaking.
  • Do not have a pulse.

What are the symptoms before cardiac arrest?

According to John Hopkins Medicine, some people show no symptoms before cardiac arrest. Some that may show up include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea.
  • Chest pain.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Loss of consciousness.

What causes cardiac arrest?

Several things can cause cardiac arrest. According to the NIH, the main cause is ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia — both types of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

“Vigorous physical activity for people, especially men, who do not exercise regularly, and alcohol misuse are most often linked with cardiac arrest,” according to the NIH. “About 2 in 20 cardiac arrests are linked with physical exertion and up to 3 in 20 cardiac arrests are linked with alcohol.”

However, agency officials noted that “half of cardiac arrests happen to people who did not know they had a heart problem.”

Children can experience cardiac arrest after incidents in which their breathing stops, such as choking or drowning.

Who is most at risk?

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say older people and men have an increased risk of cardiac arrest. Several other factors can also increase the risk, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. They include:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Family history of heart disease or cardiac arrest.
  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Low potassium or magnesium.
  • Obesity.
  • Smoking.

How is cardiac arrest treated?

It is vital that a person experiencing cardiac arrest immediately get help, as the condition can be fatal, according to NIH. The agency urged people to call 911 for help if they think they or someone around them is experiencing cardiac arrest.

The first line of treatment is typically CPR, followed by the use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED, if available.

Following cardiac arrest, people are usually admitted to hospitals for ongoing treatment aimed at preventing organ damage, NIH officials said.

Is cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, cardiac arrest is not the same thing as a heart attack.

When a person experiences a heart attack, blood flow to the heart is blocked, according to the American Heart Association. The group described heart attacks as being a “‘circulation’ problem” while cardiac arrest is an “‘electrical’ problem.”

Heart attacks increase the risk of cardiac arrest.

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