Knowing the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, can make all the difference

Two terms with different meanings and how important it is to know what they mean

heart-problemHeart Attack 

It occurs, when blood flow to a section of the heart is restricted. The primary culprit is typically coronary heart disease, which causes plaque to build up inside arteries; if the plaque ruptures, it creates a blood clot that can block blood flow to a portion of the heart muscle. Without sufficient oxygen, the muscle begins to die. The longer treatment is delayed, the greater the damage.


Pain or discomfort in upper abdomen, chest, arms, or jaw, or between shoulder blades

  • Tightness in chest, neck, arm
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Light headedness or dizziness
  • -Unusual level of fatigue
  • Cold sweat
  • Indigestion, nausea, vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

What to do: Dial 102 or have someone drive you to the emergency room

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

It occurs, when the heart stops beating and normal blood flow to the brain and organs stops. When the heart’s electrical system goes on the fritz, it can cause arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. The arrhythmia that causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest is called ventricular fibrillation. SCA can also occur after a heart attack or during recovery from one; heart attacks can increase one’s risk for SCA. Without treatment, death can occur in 8 to 10 minutes.

Symptoms include:

  • Eyes rolling back into head
  • Unconsciousness
  • Lack of breathing
  • Turning blue
  • No pulse

What to do: Call 102, and then start CPR. (Here are the basics of CPR). If available, use an Automated External Defibrillator, which delivers an electrical shock to restore heartbeat.

Source: Prevention