Asystole is known as a condition where the heart’s electrical activity has stopped, and there is no heartbeat. It can be confirmed by a doctor who can check your heartbeat and rhythm with the help of an ECG (Electrocardiography).
Moreover, in this condition, there is no heartbeat, and the monitor will show a straight line. This is why Asystole is also known as Flatline. This usually happens when a person dies and the heart has stopped functioning completely.
This is a severe condition and can even lead to cardiac arrest if immediate help is not provided. This condition can be fatal if CPR is not given on the spot. The person will also be gasping to breathe, and eventually, the breathing will also stop.
Table of Contents
What happens during this state?
The normal functioning of our heart includes two types of moments Systole and diastole. These moments are essential for the proper functioning of the heart.
Systole: it is the electric impulse needed by the heart muscle to create the heartbeat. This travels through the chambers of the heart to generate a beat. This creates a squeeze-like action, i.e., Systole. This happens while the heart is pumping the blood in the body.
Diastole: it is the interval between two heartbeats when the muscles are relaxing and it expands. While filling the blood into the chambers and the heart will pump the blood out in the next beat.
Now what happens during Asystole is that your heart stops generating the electric impulse that is necessary for functioning. The person can go into a state of Cardiac Arrest, causing Clinical Death.
In this state, the blood isn’t circulating, and oxygen is not reaching the organs. The brain cells can only survive a few minutes in this state, and this state will eventually lead to Brain Death.
What can cause Asystole?
Asystole is basically a glitch in the heart that stops or disturbs the generation of the electric impulse. There can be several reasons for this, but people who have had heart problems or have had a heart attack in the past are more prone to it.
Other reasons can be:
Use of medications that are affecting your heart.
Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs).
Some specific genetic conditions.
Use of illegal drugs or drug abuse
Low oxygen levels or a sudden drop in oxygen.
Cardiomyopathy (having a weak heart muscle)
A severe infection (sepsis)
Irregular heart rhythm
So these are the conditions that can be a potential cause of Asystole.
Can this condition be Reversed?
Asystole is one of the non-shockable rhythms, as we all must have seen in the movies. After showing the Flatline on the ECG monitor, they gave the patient shock therapy, and the heart started working again.
Unfortunately, this is not how this works. Asystole is a non-shockable rhythm. However, CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can convert it into a shockable state, and then intense shock by defibrillator might help.
Moreover, the stats have shown that if CPR is given in a timely and this non-shockable condition has converted into shockable, the chances of survival have significantly improved.
Other than CPR, Epinephrine can also be given depending on the severity to restart the heart. However, there are very few chances of survival if Asystole happens outside the Hospital.
Preventative steps you can take in Emergency
This is a condition where every single second counts, and if this happens outside the Hospital. First and foremost, make the call to 911 while the confirmation can only be done by a medical professional whether it’s an Asystole or not.
You can do the following steps as in any cardiac problem; this will help.
So you need to start giving CPR to the patient. This will ensure the chances of survival and keep continuing this until medical help arrives.
Keep on checking the neck and wrist impulses of the patient. The other thing to check is if the patient is gasping or struggling to breathe.
No attempt of shock or deliberation should be made until the condition is confirmed, as it will make the condition worse and even more difficult to get the impulse back. Give continuous CPR for 5 minutes non-stop.
If you know the underlying cause of this condition, for example, this can also happen due to dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, treating the main cause can really help. In such a situation treating the underlying condition can help start the recovery process.
Asystole VS Pulseless Electrical Activity
Pulseless Electrical Activity, known as PEA, is a condition where there is a slight electric impulse in the heart; however, it is not strong enough to cause a heart to beat.
But when we analyze ECG, the waves are similar to the normal wave pattern, unlike Asystole, when there is a flat line on the monitor. Eventually, both conditions can lead to Cardiac Arrest and need immediate medical help.
However, both conditions are non-shockable. Hence, a defibrillator will not work in such a situation. So, all you have to do in case of an Emergency is to contact the nearest medical Emergency and start CPR as soon as possible.
The Bottom Line
In cardiac conditions, time is extremely crucial, and every single second matters, so in case of an Emergency, do not panic and rush to the nearest medical center.
Moreover, if you have any heart patient in your family, learn how to give CPR and keep yourself prepared to deal with any emergency situation. Immediate and effective CPR can really save someone’s life.
You need to understand the severity of the conditions as only 2 percent of patients survive, and60 to 90 percent of people who had cardiac arrest outside the Hospital. However, the odds of survival increase substantially when effective and continuous CPR is given.
So be prepared for the circumstances and get yourself diagnosed from time to time so any underlying cause can also be detected timely.
Moreover, if you are a heart patient, consult your doctor before taking any medication or even any home remedy, as you might not know what can impact your health condition.