Difference between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest
If a doctor tells you that someone has experienced a cardiac arrest and not a heart attack, will you understand the difference between the two? Most people use cardiac arrest and heart attack interchangeably, as medical emergencies affect the heart. However, there are key differences between these two cardiac emergencies. According to the American Heart Association, the difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest is a circulation problem compared with an electrical issue.The following blog compares the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiac arrest vs heart attack. Read on to find out.
What is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs because of an interruption in the blood supply to the heart. This usually happens when a blood clot or plaque buildup blocks a coronary artery. This eventually restricts the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. As the heart muscles receive less oxygen, it begins to die. The longer someone goes without treatment, the greater damage can happen to the heart.
Symptoms of a heart attack can begin slowly and last for several hours, days, or even weeks before the attack. Moreover, not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Seek immediate medical care if someone is experiencing heart attack symptoms.
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What is a Cardiac Arrest?
A cardiac arrest, known as sudden cardiac death, happens when the heart stops beating. It occurs when an electrical malfunction in the heart causes an irregular heartbeat. As a result, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain and other organs, making a person unconscious with no pulse.
If the person does not receive treatment immediately, he or she can die within minutes. A common cause of cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation (a type of arrhythmia). During ventricular fibrillation, the heart quivers instead of beating.Although cardiac arrest and heart attack are different, they can be related. Many cardiac arrests happen because of heart attacks; they can occur after a heart attack or during recovery. However, heart attacks mostly do not lead to cardiac arrests. If someone has a sudden cardiac arrest, you must call for emergency medical attention, give CPR and use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) when available.
Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest Difference
So, is cardiac arrest a heart attack? No! Although both conditions are life-threatening emergencies, there are quite some differences between a heart attack and cardiac arrest. They are problems with different symptoms, causes, complications, and treatments.
- While a heart attack results from a blockage in blood flow to the heart, a cardiac arrest results from electrical issues.
- During a heart attack, the heart continues to beat. However, in cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and pumping blood to the vital organs.
The following table compares the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of cardiac arrest vs heart attack.
|Parameter||Heart Attack||Cardiac Arrest|
Other causes include:
It happens due to an abnormal heart rhythm resulting from the incorrect working of the heart’s electrical system. Life-threatening arrhythmias can result from pre-existing heart conditions, such as:
A healthcare professional can determine sudden cardiac arrest vs heart attack by conducting certain tests. Therefore, it is important to get immediate medical attention if someone is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack or cardiac arrest. The following table compares the diagnosis, treatment, and complications of a cardiac arrest vs heart attack.
|Parameters||Heart Attack||Cardiac Arrest|
A cardiac arrest requires immediate resuscitation. If you survive a sudden cardiac arrest, the doctor may perform diagnostic tests to determine its cause. These tests include:
Depending on the severity of the emergency, a doctor may recommend the following treatment procedures:
The doctor may also prescribe medications to help with recovery or prevent another heart attack:
A cardiac arrest requires immediate treatment for survival, which includes:
Once the heart starts beating again, the doctor starts other treatments to lower the risk of another cardiac arrest:
A delay in treatment can cause a cardiac arrest. Other complications after a heart attack include:
A delay in treatment can cause permanent brain and organ disability or injury. The effect on the brain can have long-term effects, such as:
Stroke vs Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest
Another similar emergency condition that people often confuse with a heart attack or cardiac arrest is a stroke. The following is the difference between a stroke vs heart attack vs cardiac arrest:
- A stroke happens when there is a reduction or interruption in the blood supply to the brain, depriving the brain tissue of nutrients and oxygen.
- A heart attack happens when the blood supply to the heart is interrupted or blocked.
- A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating suddenly.
In summary, the basic difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest is that while the former occurs due to an interruption in the blood supply to the heart, the latter occurs when the heart stops beating because of an electrical problem. Several symptoms are experienced during a heart attack, which is not similar for everyone. However, the most common symptoms of cardiac arrest include lack of breathing, unconsciousness, and no pulse. You can manage the risks of both sudden cardiac arrest vs heart attack by adopting certain lifestyle changes and taking the medicines prescribed by the doctor.For any more doubts regarding cardiac arrest vs heart attack, you can consult an expert at HexaHealth. Our team will guide you through the symptoms, causes, and treatments of these life-threatening conditions. Moreover, we will help you with tips to prevent a cardiac arrest vs attack. If you or your loved ones experience any heart attack or cardiac arrest symptoms, seek medical attention immediately by contacting HexaHealth experts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a healthy person get cardiac arrest?
Is cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?
What comes first, cardiac arrest or heart attack?
Can you have a heart attack without cardiac arrest?
Is cardiac arrest painful?
Are there warning signs before cardiac arrest?
Is cardiac arrest a quick death?
Are you alive during cardiac arrest?
How long can cardiac arrest last?
Can people come back from cardiac arrest?
Does stress cause cardiac arrest?
What is the longest someone has survived cardiac arrest?
How long after cardiac arrest do you wake up?
Is there brain damage after cardiac arrest?
Why cardiac arrest happens at night?
Updated on : Monday, 26 December 2022
MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES
12 Years Experience
Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More
MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management
3 Years Experience
His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More
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