Four Differences Between A Cardiac Arrest and A Heart Attack

While people use the terms interchangeably, both cardiac arrest and heart attack are related to the heart, but they are distinct medical events with different causes and outcomes. Cardiac arrest treatment also differs from the steps doctors take to treat a heart attack. Read on to learn more about the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack:

What Is a Heart Attack? Vs. What Is a Cardiac Arrest?

Heart Attack

A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs when a blockage in the artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the block is not removed, impaired blood flow damages the heart muscles, and that part of the muscle begins to die. Symptoms may begin slowly and mildly, persisting for hours, days, or even weeks before the attack. However, sometimes, it can be intense and immediate.

Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac arrest refers to a sudden loss of heart activity, i.e., the heart stops pumping blood due to irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. When the heart stops beating, the brain, lungs, and other organs do not receive oxygen. Thus, in a cardiac arrest, death can happen within minutes if the patient isn’t treated immediately.

While heart attacks may not lead to cardiac arrests, when a cardiac arrest happens, a heart attack is a common cause. Another difference is that a heart attack is a problem related to blood circulation, and a cardiac arrest is an electrical problem caused by a disruption in the heart’s rhythm.

Heart Attack Symptoms Vs. Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

Heart Attack

As earlier said, heart attack symptoms can be mild and start slowly or intense and immediate. Some common symptoms include mild pain or discomfort over several hours, burning pain that spreads to one or both arms, jaws, and neck, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, sweating, etc. Symptoms in women can be different from symptoms in men. For instance, women are more likely to experience nausea, vomiting, jaw pain, etc.

Cardiac Arrest

A cardiac arrest happens without warning, but the body may experience warning signs up to two weeks before the cardiac arrest. This includes chest pain, shortness of breath, racing heart, dizziness, etc. Some patients may experience flu-like symptoms. Just a few seconds before a cardiac arrest, the patient may lose consciousness, dizziness, and even shortness of breath.

Not everyone suffering from a heart attack has the same symptoms. Some people may experience pain in the middle of the chest that gradually spreads to the arms, jaw, and back, while some others may experience pain in the above-mentioned parts and not in the chest. Some people even experience heartburn-like symptoms and hence mistake it for indigestion.

What To Do in A Heart Attack Vs. What to Do in A Cardiac Arrest?

Heart Attack

The first thing you must do is call for an ambulance immediately. The sooner the patient is treated, the better their chances of survival and speedy recovery. Remember to stay calm so as to calm the patient. Get them to sit down and relax. If the patient is taking chest pain medication, help them take it. DO NOT leave the person alone or allow the person to convince you not to ring for help.

Cardiac Arrest

The first thing you must do is call for an ambulance immediately. Administer CPR if you know to ensure blood and oxygen flow to the brain and organs until a medical professional uses a defibrillator to restart the heart.

Heart Attack Treatment Vs. Cardiac Arrest Treatment

Heart Attack

Heart attack treatment depends on the type of attack, i.e., if the blockage is partial or complete. Initial medical treatment of complete blockage involves relieving ischemic pain using nitrates and morphine and administering antithrombotic measures like aspirin and P2Y12 inhibitors. Initial medical treatment of partial blockage involves administering blood-thinning medicines like aspirin. At the hospital, heart attack treatment could range from angioplasty, heart bypass surgery, heart valve replacement, pacemaker insertion, etc. And in extreme cases, the doctor may suggest a heart transplant.

Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest treatment always begins with administering CPR. In the ambulance, emergency medical professionals may use a defibrillator to start the heart. After the patient survives the cardiac arrest, the doctor will begin treatment to reduce reoccurrence. The patient may also be put into an induced coma to allow the body to recover. This is a crucial time as the patient may need close monitoring.

The next step is to help the patient towards recovery. This includes pacemaker insertion, surgery, medications, etc. Sometimes, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is also recommended. You will be asked to drastically change your lifestyle and make healthier choices.

Finding the Best Heart Hospitals in Nagercoil

The best time to look for a heart specialist in Nagercoil is before an emergency arises. Unlike choosing a restaurant, you can’t solely rely on online reviews or testimonials. The reputation of the cardiac team, the hospital’s infrastructure and technology, its patient-centric approach, and the hospital’s reputation in the community are deciding factors. If you’re new to the city, we recommend asking for references from friends, family members, and work colleagues.

Calwin Hospitals is one of the best heart hospitals in Nagercoil, led by a team of expert cardiac specialists with several years of experience in invasive and non-invasive cardiac procedures. Our state-of-the-art operation theatre and a well-equipped cardiac care unit ensure 24/7 care and treatment.

Call us or Visit Us to learn more about the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack.


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