Is Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest The Same? Understand the Difference!

“It was a heart attack”, “he died of cardiac arrest”. We've all heard these phrases, and we've all heard the terminology, and each one indicates a heart-related health problem. However, we frequently use these phrases interchangeably, even though they are not the synonyms. Is there a similarity between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest? Or do they differ in some way? Let's take a look at each and find out.

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot or plaque build-up in an artery. Since the heart muscle needs oxygen to survive, the muscle begins to contract when blood flow is blocked. The person begins to feel pressure in the chest or might experience shortness of breath or fatigue several weeks before the heart attack.

Warning Signs of Heart Attack?

Don`t wait to get help if you experience these warning signs of a heart attack. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body if you experience the below things

  • Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that feels like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body which may include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Dyspnea may or may not be accompanied by chest discomfort
  • Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

What is Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is one of the most common heart conditions that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. This is when the heart suddenly stops beating. Since our heartbeat is controlled by electrical impulses, when these impulses change the rhythm, the heart rhythm can become irregular, leading to arrhythmia. When the heart stops, it leads to fatality.

Warning Signs of Cardiac Arrest

For many people, cardiac arrest occurs without any warning signs. However, some people experience warning signs before the heart stops. These may include:

Someone who has already had a cardiac arrest will be:

  • Unconscious
  • Unresponsive
  • Not breathing

Is there a connection between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest?

These two distinct heart diseases are related. It is possible that sudden cardiac arrest can happen after a heart attack or during the phase of recovery. Also, the heart attacks increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Most heart attacks do not lead to sudden cardiac arrest. But in sudden cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction is a common cause. Other heart conditions can also disrupt the heart rhythm and lead to sudden cardiac arrest. These include thickening of heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), heart failure, arrhythmias, especially ventricular fibrillation, and long QT syndrome.
Now, we have seen what is what and can distinguish one from the other.
Remember, if you think you have a symptom that could lead to any of the conditions mentioned above, you should first see your doctor. To have a healthy heart means to lead a happy and an active life.

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