Cardiac arrest is the hallmark of death. It’s the moment when the heart stops effectively pumping blood around to the muscles and tissues of the body, especially the brain.
This is the moment when every patient dies. You might see the term used in official press releases or media accounts (cause of death: cardiac arrest), but that’s like saying the reason someone fell was because of gravity.
Cardiac arrest is recognized by the cessation of a pulse and of breathing. Officially, cardiac arrest is considered clinical death, but it can be treated.
With proper CPR and possibly defibrillation, a person in cardiac arrest can sometimes be saved. There is a limit, however. Resuscitation doesn’t always have the potential to work.
Prolonged cardiac arrest or certain types of trauma that are just not survivable are considered insurmountable and attempts to resuscitate the person won’t be successful.
In the event of prolonged cardiac arrest, brain death (also known as biological death) is considered the absolute point of no return.