Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment
Cardiac arrest and heart attack are two different medical conditions, but they are often confused with each other. Both conditions can be life-threatening, so it is important to know the difference between them so that you can get the help you need quickly.
What is a cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops beating. Cardiac arrest is often caused by a problem with the heart’s electrical system, but it can also be caused by a heart attack, blood clot, or other medical condition.
What is a heart attack?
This can happen when a blood clot forms in a coronary artery, which is a blood vessel that supplies blood to the heart.
Signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest
The signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest can come on suddenly and without warning. The most common signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest are:
Sudden loss of consciousness
Blue or gray lips and skin
Signs and symptoms of a heart attack
The signs and symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person.
Chest pain or discomfort
shortness of breath
Nausea or vomiting
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Pain or discomfort in the arm, jaw, neck, or back
Treatment for cardiac arrest
If you see someone having a cardiac arrest, it is important to call 911 immediately. While you wait for help to arrive, you can start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). CPR involves chest compressions and rescue breaths to help keep blood and oxygen flowing to the brain and other vital organs.
If you have an AED (automated external defibrillator), you can also use it to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.
Treatment may include:
Bypass surgery to create a new pathway for blood to flow to the heart
Prevention of cardiac arrest and heart attack
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of cardiac arrest and heart attack, including:
Eating a healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy weight
If you have any risk factors for cardiac arrest or heart attack, it is important to talk to your doctor about how to reduce your risk.
If you see someone having cardiac arrest or heart attack, the most important thing to do is to call 911 immediately. While you wait for help to arrive, you can take the following steps:
If the person is having cardiac arrest, start CPR.
If you have an AED, use it to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.
, help them to sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
Loosen any tight clothing.
Give the person aspirin if they are not allergic to it.
Q1: What is the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack?
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, and the person becomes unresponsive. A heart attack, on the other hand, is a circulation problem caused by a blocked blood vessel, leading to a lack of oxygen in the heart muscle. While both are serious, a cardiac arrest is more life-threatening as it can lead to death within minutes if not treated.
Q2: What are the common signs and symptoms of a heart attack?
– Common symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, cold sweats, nausea, and pain radiating to the arm, neck, jaw, or back. It’s important to note that not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and some may have atypical signs.
Q3: How can I differentiate between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest?
– A heart attack typically presents with chest pain and other associated symptoms, while a cardiac arrest is characterized by a sudden loss of responsiveness, lack of pulse, and the person falling unconscious.
Q4: What should I do if I suspect someone is having a heart attack?
– If you suspect someone is having a heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Encourage the person to rest and try to keep them calm. If the person has prescribed medication (such as nitroglycerin), help them take it. Wait for emergency responders to arrive.
Q5: How can I respond to a person experiencing cardiac arrest?
– If you witness someone experiencing cardiac arrest, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) by performing chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. If available, use an automated external defibrillator (AED) to deliver an electric shock to the person’s heart. Early CPR and defibrillation are crucial for survival in cardiac arrest cases.
Cardiac arrest and heart attack are two serious medical conditions, but they are treatable if they are diagnosed and treated early. By knowing the signs and symptoms of each condition and what to do if you see someone having cardiac arrest or heart attack, you can help to save a life.