An overview

Does heart attack and cardiac arrest mean the same? Obviously not. Many people believe in the notion heart attack and cardiac arrest is same. The fact is heart attack and cardiac arrest differs in its occurrence. The symptoms are also different in heart attack and cardiac arrest.

Understanding heart attack and cardiac arrest

In heart attack, the coronary arteries get blocked and blood flow to the heart is interrupted. As a result, the heart muscles are damaged which may lead to a heart failure. The heart may continue to beat even without blood supply. Coronary artery disease leads to heart attack in most cases. A heart attack can result in a cardiac arrest.

The heart stops pumping blood for the needs of the body in cardiac arrest. Therefore cardiac arrest is a sudden stop in effective blood flow due to the failure of the heart to contract effectively. It can be an unexpected, sudden loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. It may lead to sudden death without much intervention. A cardiac arrest can be immediate, drastic and without warning.

Symptoms of cardiac arrest

The major symptoms of cardiac arrest include:

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness
  • No normal breathing
  • Stop in pulse  

Sudden loss of responsiveness
A cardiac arrest occurs when heart suddenly stops pumping blood for the various requirements of the body. As a result the person would experience a sudden loss in the response of the body. There will be neither signs of breathing nor any movements in the body. The person will show no response to tapping on the shoulders. Also there the person will collapse within seconds.
Signs similar to heart attack

One may experience certain signs of cardiac arrest, which is similar to heart attack. It includes:

Causes of the cardiac arrest
The immediate cause of cardiac arrest can be arrhythmia or abnormality in heart beat resulting in the irregularity with the electrical system of the heart. As you know the heart has its own electrical stimulator. The possible causes of cardiac arrest include:
Coronary artery disease 

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Structural or electrical changes in the heart
  • Problems related to electrical system of the heart
  • Heart valve related diseases
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart attack
  • A failure in pacemaker
  • Hypothermia 
  • Drowning

You are at a higher risk of cardiac arrest if you have:

  • Respiratory disease 
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Heavy smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol consumption at higher levels
  • Get first aid

If someone gets a cardiac arrest, action should be taken immediately without leaving a second to give the first aid. CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be given fast in order to save life. Each second counts in medical emergency caused by cardiac arrest and it can result in death within minutes. However, it is reversible if proper first aid and medical support is given sooner. 

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