As a cardiac arrest survivor, you may experience various physical and emotional changes, including fatigue. Fatigue is a common side effect of cardiac arrest and can sometimes be overwhelming. In this article, we will explore the reasons for fatigue after a cardiac arrest, and offer tips on managing it.
What causes fatigue after a cardiac arrest?
When a cardiac arrest occurs, the lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain and other organs can cause serious damage, including brain damage, organ failure, and even death. Even after successful resuscitation, the body may still be in shock, and the heart and other organs may take some time to recover. This process can be physically and emotionally exhausting, resulting in fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms.
Medications play a crucial role in treating many causes of cardiac arrest. However, as with any medication, they may cause side effects that can impact a person’s quality of life. Beta-blockers are a type of medication commonly prescribed to patients who have experienced a heart attack or have a history of heart disease. These medications work by blocking the effects of adrenaline, which can increase blood pressure and heart rate. By doing so, beta-blockers can reduce the risk of future heart complications and improve a person’s overall cardiac health.
However, beta-blockers may also cause fatigue, weakness, and weariness in some patients. This is because beta-blockers can slow down the heart rate, reducing the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the body’s tissues. As a result, some patients may experience decreased energy levels and feel more tired than usual. It is important to note that not all patients who take beta-blockers will experience fatigue or weakness. Some patients may tolerate the medication well and not experience any adverse side effects.
If you are taking beta-blockers and experiencing fatigue or weakness, you must speak with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may adjust your medication dosage or recommend alternative treatments to alleviate your symptoms.
Mental fatigue is a prevalent symptom following cardiac arrest due to the brain’s oxygen deprivation, leading to cognitive impairments such as memory issues, lack of focus, and difficulties making decisions.
How to manage fatigue after a cardiac arrest?
- Get enough rest: Getting enough rest after a cardiac arrest is essential. Make sure to have regular sleep patterns and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Stay active: While rest is important, too much rest can lead to muscle weakness and further fatigue. Start with gentle exercises like walking, and gradually increase your activity level.
- Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet can help provide the energy and nutrients your body needs to recover. Avoid processed and sugary foods, and opt for whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Manage stress: Stress can worsen fatigue. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
- Seek support: It is essential to have a support system during your recovery. Talk to your family, friends, or a therapist about your feelings.
As fatigue is the number one cardiac arrest sequela, we have put together a number of resources to provide further help and insight:
Fatigue is a common side effect of a cardiac arrest. However, with proper management, it is possible to overcome it. By following the tips mentioned above, you can manage your fatigue and take steps towards a full recovery. If you are struggling with fatigue after a cardiac arrest, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider for further advice and support.
After our first meet-up in February 2015, I realised I was not alone. It was the first time since my cardiac arrest the previous year that I had spoken face-to-face with someone who had experienced what I had. This was also true for my wife, who also happened to be my lifesaver. From that meet-up, the idea of SCA UK was born. Since then, we have achieved a considerable amount, primarily providing information, resources and support to others in a similar situation but also raising the profile of survivorship and the need for better post-discharge care. We are starting to get traction in this, and with the formation of the charity, I genuinely believe we have a bright future ahead and will make a significant difference in the lives of many who join our ranks.