Do you know the difference between V-Fib and Asystole? If not, you’ve come to the right place. Both of them are cardiac arrest conditions caused by different underlying mechanisms. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between V-Fib and Asystole, their underlying conditions, and multiple treatment options.
What Is V-Fib (Ventricular Fibrillation)?
Ventricular Fibrillation, or V-Fib for short, is a malfunction in the heart’s normal sinus rhythm and pumping sequence. It’s also known as arrhythmia, a common and deadly irregular heart rhythm.
In V-Fib, the lower chambers of your heart twitch and quiver instead of completely squeezing or expanding. It means that blood is not pumping in and out of your heart as it should. And when the blood flow halts, you usually have a few seconds before you pass out. This is known as cardiac arrest. It usually leads to death within a few minutes because the heart stops pumping oxygen and blood inside your body. So, without immediate care, you’ll die.
Symptoms Of V-Fib
Cardiac arrest can be difficult to identify if you don’t know what to look for. Here are some common symptoms just before V-Fib:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations where you can become unpleasantly aware of your heartbeat
- Erratic and racing pulse
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Chest pains
If someone experiences two or more of these symptoms, they’re at risk of collapsing with little or no warning and will not react or respond to you when you interact with them or try to wake them up. They may also gasp for breath or stop breathing altogether at some point.
How To Treat V-Fib?
This is a life-threatening condition and needs immediate attention. So if you see anyone collapse due to the symptoms mentioned above, stay calm and dial emergency services. Next, begin CPR. Chest compressions can ensure blood and oxygen circulation until the paramedics arrive or you get access to an AED machine.
Once the AED machine arrives, use it to shock the person’s heart and return it to normal sinus rhythm. If you use an AED within the first three minutes after a person collapses of Ventricular Fibrillation, the survival rate can increase to ninety-five percent.
Also, individuals who experience V-Fib are at high risk of experiencing it again. So, they’ll need antiarrhythmic medications for life. And some people need an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to restore their heart’s rhythm to normal.
What Is Asystole?
Asystole is a heart disorder where the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and stops circulating blood in your body. In this condition, your heart’s pumping activity appears as a flat line on an electrocardiogram rather than a steady wave-like pattern in sinus rhythm; this is sometimes referred to as “flat-lining” or “flat-line.”
In this type of cardiac arrest, your heart will completely stop beating, which will cause you to lose consciousness. As asystole cannot be diagnosed without an electrocardiogram, it is a clinical sign rather than a symptom (ECG or EKG). It is a diagnostic procedure in which your skin is covered with 12 or more sensors all over your chest. These sensors, also known as electrodes, track and detect the electrical activity of your heart, which manifests as a wave pattern on a screen or piece of paper.
With each heartbeat, an electric current flows through your heart. Then the attached sensors display the strength of this current and its path through the heart. So, the asystole appears as a flat line on the screen or piece of paper since there is no electrical activity in the heart to produce a wave-like pattern.
How To Treat Asystole?
If asystole or cardiac arrest happens outside of a hospital, the most important thing is to begin CPR immediately until medical professionals arrive. Whereas, inside a hospital, the medical professionals will start CPR and administer epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, to kickstart your heart.
Asystole almost always happens because of an underlying problem like hypothermia, electrolyte imbalance, electrocution, trauma, toxins, etc. So, the key to preventing this condition is to treat the underlying cause.
The Difference Between V-Fib And Asystole
The main difference between V-Fib and Asystole is that, in V-Fib, the electrical activity in the heart is quite chaotic, and the muscles keep contracting irregularly. Whereas, in asystole, there’s no electrical activity at all, so the muscles don’t contract or expand.
Also, we can treat V-Fib with defibrillation, in which we shock the heart with electricity to restore a normal heartbeat. Asystole, in contrast, is not responsive to defibrillation. You must perform advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) protocols and medication to restore normal heart function.
V-Fib is generally more treatable and survivable than asystole because you can simply use an AED machine in V-Fib to kickstart normal heart activity. However, in asystole, you have to resort to cardiopulmonary resuscitation and advanced life support measure to start heart functions.
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About The Author
Hamish, K. has been working as a certified CPR and ACLS trainer at a reputable training and certification institute in Pennsylvania. He also writes for acclaimed websites and magazines to educate his readers about life-threatening medical conditions.