Asystole definition

Asystole occurs when heart muscle does not pump the amount of blood the body needs. Failure does not mean that the heart does not pump blood, but that no longer works as it should.

Because the heart does not function at normal level, it tries to compensate by:

– Retaining water and salt to increase the amount of blood

– Increased heart rate (tachycardia)

– Increased heart size.

Over time the heart gets tired and starts becoming increasingly less effective. At this time symptoms such as fatigue and weakness install. Blood vessels begin to stagnate in reaching the heart, causing fluid accumulation in the lungs and shortness of breath.

Asystole is caused by systolic dysfunction such as:

– Coronary artery disease or myocardial infarction (most common cause)

– Poorly controlled hypertension, diabetes or thyroid disease

– Cardiomyopathy, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, heart muscle infection or inflammation (myocarditis)

– Cocaine or other illicit drugs

– Diseases of the sac surrounds the heart (pericardial disease)

– Congenital heart disease

– Disease or valvular rupture

– Heart disease that cause the heart rate too high, too low or irregular (arrhythmia)

– Age: age with heart muscle becomes more rigid, preventing the heart fills with blood.

In the early stages of asystole symptoms may not exist. Shortened breath with effort and with fatigue occurs when the heart is weakened and does not pump enough blood to provide nutrients and oxygen necessary to the body. Effort to counteract the body leads to heart failure symptoms.

Classic symptoms of asystole

Shortness of breath and make the effort (dyspnea). Features:

– Fatigue walking

– Need to stop frequently when walking

– Chest tightness

– Shortness of breath

– Shortness of breath while the patient is lying (orthopnoea)

– Shortness of breath while sleeping (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea).

Weight gain. Features:

– Weight gain due to fluid accumulation in the body.

Swollen feet (edema). Features:

– Swelling of the feet is worse at the end of the day or after the patient spent more time standing

– Pain

– Pressure on the skin is well

– Shoes may become too small.

Fatigue or inability to exercise. Features:

– Increased fatigue

– Inability to make the same effort as in the past

– Fatigue.

Abdominal enlargement. Features:

– Pain

– Abdomen soft.

Decreased appetite and decreased muscle strength. Features:

– Weakness

– Cardiac cachexia.

Frequent urination. Features:

– Frequent urination, more frequent at night (nocturia).

Cough. Features:

– Dry cough, nagging

– Is accentuated if the patient is lying.

Asystole affects both sides of the heart.

Asystole is classified according to symptoms. This classification is important in therapeutic decision.

Classification of heart failure

Class I – physical activity is limited and does not cause severe fatigue, palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain.

Class II – slightly limited physical activity, the patient can rest comfortably, but normal activities result in fatigue, palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain.

Class III – limited importance of physical activity, the patient can rest comfortably, but there are, palpitations, difficulty breathing and chest pain at the slightest effort.

Class IV – any physical activity causes discomfort, symptoms are present at rest, and at the least effort.

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