Although many people use the terms “heart attack” and “cardiac arrest” interchangeably, they are totally different heart conditions that drastically affect how medical professionals treat people suffering from either of these problems. To accurately tell the different between these heart conditions, let’s dive into the definition and symptoms.
A heart attack occurs when the coronary artery, carrying oxygen-rich blood, is blocked, and the blockage can cause a section of the heart to malfunction and die if it is not dealt with quickly. During this attack, the heart continues to beat. However, parts of the body, especially the heart, do not get the oxygen that they need, so blockages need to be removed as quickly as possible to avoid permanent damage. People who experience heart attacks usually suffer from pressure, tightness and pain in the chest that can spread into the lower part of your face, such as your jaw. There are additional symptoms, such as heartburn, nausea, and abdominal pain but these symptoms differ depending on the patient.
A cardiac arrest, on the other hand, means that the heart completely stops or has a dangerous irregular rhythm. Interestingly, cardiac arrests can start as a heart attack, which may lead to the interchangeability of the two terms. Cardiac arrests are caused by an abnormal heart rhythm. These abnormal heart rhythms are caused by an interruption in the electrical impulses that make the heart contract. Usually, cardiac arrests happen suddenly and requires immediate medical intervention. Many times, the first sign of cardiac arrest is fainting. Another sign is a lack of pulse or a racing heartbeat along with dizziness, shortness of breath, or vomiting. However, most people do not experience any of these symptoms and just collapse.
Knowing the important differences between a heart attack and cardiac arrest can save someone’s life!