World Heart Day: Difference Between Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Heart Attack?

People often think that a heart attack is the same as a cardiac arrest. However, there are differences that you should know. In order to distinguish between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, it is first essential to understand what happens in both processes.

What is a heart attack?

One can have a heart attack when the blocked artery prevents oxygenated blood from reaching different parts of the heart. If the blocked artery no longer opens, the part of the heart normally fed by that artery tends to die. The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage will be.

Symptoms of a heart attack: If a person has a heart attack, he or she will experience symptoms that are intense and immediate. You may experience chest pain, left arm pain, fatigue, dizziness, cold sweat, indigestion, nausea, discomfort, shortness of breath or shoulder discomfort, etc. Sometimes heart attack symptoms start slowly and last for hours, days, or weeks before the heart attack hits. You should be able to recognize these symptoms and seek medical attention.

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Talk to your doctor about your heart health! Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

What is cardiac arrest?

One can have a cardiac arrest, also called sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It can be seen as a result of the electrical malfunction in the heart due to an irregular heartbeat (known as arrhythmia). When the heart’s pumping action is disrupted, the heart cannot pump enough blood to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and even the brain. One can even lose life from sudden cardiac arrest if not treated in time. Timely intervention is therefore essential in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, as the heart tends to beat faster.

Also read: World Heart Day: Can a heart attack look like the flu?

Connection between heart attack and cardiac arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is often seen after a heart attack. Heart attacks also increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest and are the cause behind it.

Causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

The other causes of sudden cardiac arrest have been discovered with coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease and extreme physical activity. Other risk factors for SCA include family history, heart failure, diabetes, drug abuse, and fluctuations in blood levels of potassium and magnesium or even a previous episode of SCA. So don’t ignore the symptoms of heart disease or obesity and seek treatment immediately.

Also read: Is it a heart attack or heartburn? Here’s how to differentiate yourself

Remember that both a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest are equally dangerous and require immediate medical attention. These are emergencies, so you should try to reach a nearby hospital for your best chance of survival.

cardiac arrest
Knowing the signs of a heart attack can save a life. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s how to recognize the symptoms and respond to sudden cardiac arrest:

The symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest may include fainting, palpitations, chest pain, sudden collapse, feeling light-headed, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and vomiting. In addition, there will be no pulse and breathing difficulties. The person will feel extremely weak. It is imperative to see the doctor in case of wheezing, palpitations and general discomfort.

How to deal with sudden cardiac arrest?

In case of sudden cardiac arrest, call the doctor immediately. Call for an ambulance. If the person is unconscious, you should give him/her cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as this can be life-saving. It will help circulate blood and oxygen until medical help arrives. Then your doctor will decide on the further line of treatment.

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