What’s the Difference between a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest?

By: Emily Lunardo | Heart Health | Monday, May 14, 2018 - 04:30 AM

Heart Attack vs Cardiac ArrestYou’ve heard of a heart attack and you probably have a good understanding of what that is. You may have even heard of cardiac arrest. You know that these two events are serious and frankly should be avoided as best as possible.

Although both events occur to the heart, they are quite different. So, let us help you have a better understanding of these cardiovascular events by revealing the differences between a heart attack and cardiac arrest.

Heart Attack versus Cardiac Arrest

A heart attack occurs when a part of the heart becomes damaged because of inadequate blood flow. This commonly occurs due to a blockage in the specified area of the heart. Common causes of blockages result from cholesterol and plaque build up in the arteries.

Cardiac arrest, on the other hand, refers to the electrical aspect of the heart. When there is an electrical malfunction of the heart, it is known as cardiac arrest. In cardiac arrest, the heart may be beating irregularly, erratically, or not at all. In this case, oxygenated blood can’t get to the other vital areas of the body, which can cause a person to pass out almost instantly.

Although a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest, the majority do not.

Damage caused by heart attacks and cardiac arrest is possible but can vary. To determine the extent of the damage an echocardiogram is used — an ultrasound for the heart. The severity of the heart attack will determine how much lasting damage there is.

In either case, it’s incredibly important to call emergency personnel immediately if you suspect someone is having a heart attack or going into cardiac arrest. The more time that passes without proper treatment, the worse the outcome can be.

Common heart attack symptoms include uncomfortable pressure or tightening of the chest, pain or uncomfortableness of the arm, back, or jaw, shortness of breath, sudden nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness or dizziness, and unusual fatigue.

Cardiac arrest signs include sudden unresponsiveness and changes in breathing. It’s important that CPR is administered continuously until emergency persons arrive.


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