How long can you function once your heart stops?


Often in movies and such when a person is struck in the heart they drop like a sack of potatoes. In real life if someone were to shoot you in the heart how long would you be able to function normally?

In: 118

Normally, you drop like a sack of potatoes, like in the movies. Due to shock.

You could potentially continue operating on the stored oxygen in your organs for a minute or so depending on your individual condition. But you will black out fairly quickly and die not long after since you aren’t moving any fresh blood into your brain.

You stay conscious longer when holding your breathe because you still have oxygen in your lungs and oxygenated blood in your body that is circulating.

This is all assuming that the shot completely destroys the heart and its functioning, not just putting a small hole in it that allows it to continue beating with some level of effectiveness.

Almost not at all.

Your brain needs a constant supply of oxygen. Even when you’re, say, holding your breath, your heart is still circulating your blood (so it’s still pulling oxygen from the air left in your lungs), so you can hold out for a little while. But if your heart stops, your brain consumes the available oxygen in a matter of seconds, and you almost immediately pass out (in a matter of a couple seconds at most). Your brain cells can survive for around a minute or two in this state before they start taking irreversible damage (the exact time depends on things like the temperature), and you’re dead a few minutes after that.

An example of this in a case where the heart *doesn’t* stop is fainting. If you have low blood pressure or certain disorders, standing up quickly causes your heart to briefly not be able to lift blood to your brain, and you faint on standing up. In this case, the brain doesn’t stay without oxygen for long enough to do any damage, but you lose consciousness almost instantly.

If you stop the blood flow to the brain you will loose consciousness in less than 10 seconds, and that’s probably being generous

The issue would be if the shot or stab to the chest doesn’t stop the heart beating immediately but causes bleeding. If it’s in the chest you’ll probably bleed out quickly, but maybe be able to function to some extent for a few minutes

It really depends on the damage done. Assuming the heart or arteries are materially destroyed a person’s blood pressure would drop and they would lose consciousness. This isn’t instantaneous… depending on the person, they could remain conscious for as much as 5 seconds (roughly) before passing out.

If less damage is done, and the heart is only functioning marginally (ie fibrillation) they could remain conscious considerably longer.

Ever seen people getting chocked out? You lose consciousness in seconds.

Tho I don’t recommend it, you can try it yourself if you’re a fairly skinny person. Feel out the 2 carotid arteries running up on either side of your neck with your thumb and index finger. Then let our your breath and press down. You’ll feel like you’re about to pass out within a few seconds.