Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack: How Are They Different?

heart attack vs cardiac arrest

Your heart is one of the most important organs in the body. And yet, it’s surprising how little people know about the health conditions which impact the heart. 

People use the terms “heart attack” and “cardiac arrest” interchangeably. They think that they’re essentially the same thing. But, they are different in important ways. However, you may not think that the difference between the two matters. You’d be wrong!

Whether you need to know for yourself or someone else, it’s important to be able to sport the difference between a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

After all, this could make the difference between life and death. Do you want to understand more about cardiac arrest vs heart attack?

Check out the below blog post to discover the difference. Here we go!

What is a Heart Attack?

Did you know that around one in four deaths in the United States is due to a heart attack?

You may have experienced heart attack yourself or you know someone who has. And yet, you may not know what a heart attack actually is. 

Put simply, a heart attack is a circulation problem. It occurs when an artery becomes blocked from the heart. This subsequently prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the heart.

Consequently, if the blockage is not opened up, the heart undergoes severe damage. That’s why the longer the patient goes without any treatment, the worse the damage will be.

People largely think of a heart attack as occurring within a split second. However, the symptoms can often last for weeks before the heart attack. That’s why it’s vital you know how to look out for. 

Unlike what people think, the heart does not stop beating during a heart attack. Moreover, heart attacks are also extremely diverse. They affect different people in different ways.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrests are rarer than heart attacks. However, in many cases, they are much more fatal.

In fact, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year in the United States. When it’s in the hospital, the medical staff can often provide assistance. 

However, outside of the hospital, cardiac arrests occur without any warning. If you’re at a high risk of cardiac arrest, many experts recommend that you should have an AED in your home. 

When you have a cardiac arrest, you experience an electrical malfunction, which causes the heart to beat irregularly.

When the pumping of blood around the body is disrupted, the heart is unable to provide oxygen to vital organs, such as the brain or lungs.

Therefore, after a couple of moments, the patient loses consciousness. Without any treatment, the person usually dies. 

Symptoms of Heart Attacks

Do you know how to spot a heart attack? Knowing when you or someone else is having a heart attack can save a life.

Most people who experience heart attacks display early symptoms. These include the following:

  • Jaw or neck pain
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Mild nausea
  • Severe anxiety 

The feeling before you have a heart attack has been described by some as an experience of “impending doom.”

However, women and men experience the symptoms of a heart attack quite differently. For example, men usually experience the so-called “classic” symptoms of a heart attack. Notably, severe chest pain and irregular heart rate. While women usually experience anxiety and a radiating pain which travels from the chest to the arms.

Do you know what a regular heart rate sounds like? Check out this blog post to learn how to slow down and restore your heart rate. 

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

There are so many symptoms of a heart attack. These can vary widely from person to person. And yet, a cardiac arrest has only one symptom, which is the loss of consciousness.  

However, you need to watch out for any warning signs. For example, shortness of breath or dizziness. Unfortunately, in many cases, there are no signs until the sudden loss of consciousness. 

What to do for a Heart Attack?

You should immediately call the emergency response number, such as 9-1-1. You cannot waste a second when someone’s having a heart attack.

The emergency response medical staff are usually able to treat the patient immediately when they arrive on the scene. This is normally the quickest way to seek medical treatment.

What to do for a Cardiac Arrest?

The sudden cardiac arrest is one of the most common causes of death in the United States. The patient is in extreme danger. Call emergency medical support on 9-1-1. If the patient receives medical attention quickly, the cardiac arrest is reversible.

Before the medical services can arrive, you should perform CPR on the patient. You can triple the chance of survival of the patient by performing CPR. Continue with CPR until the medical services get there.

What is the Connection Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest?

Heart attacks and cardiac arrests are different. And yet, they are also connected with each other.

You can suddenly experience a cardiac arrest during a heart attack. This can even happen during your recovery. However, it is not common to experience a cardiac arrest after a heart attack.

Any other condition which disrupts the rhythm of the heartbeat can also cause cardiac arrest. For example, heart failure or ventricular fibrillation.  

Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack

Now you know the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest. You shouldn’t confuse the two. Remember a cardiac arrest is an electrical problem, whereas a heart attack is a circulation problem. 

Do you want to know how to cope with cardiac arrest vs heart attack? Check out our blog post on why you need an AED at your workplace.