Heart Attack vs. Cardiac Arrest: What is the difference?

Any issue that affects your heart is dangerous, and very often life-threatening, but they’re not all the same — especially when it comes to a heart attack versus cardiac arrest.

At Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, under the expert guidance of Dr. Rajiv Agarawal, our team of specialists treats a wide range of issues that affect your cardiovascular health — from coronary artery disease to arrhythmia. When it comes to more serious events, like a heart attack or cardiac arrest, it pays to understand the difference so that you’re better prepared to take the appropriate steps.

A matter of circulation

A heart attack is primarily a problem with circulation and occurs when an artery is blocked, preventing oxygen-rich blood from being circulated properly by your heart. The symptoms of a heart attack include:

These symptoms are by no means comprehensive, but they include the more common complaints. Also, these symptoms may appear suddenly or develop over the course of hours, days, or even weeks.

The problem with a heart attack is that the longer your heart struggles to deliver blood, the more damage can occur throughout your body, which is deprived of the oxygen and nutrients your blood delivers.

Seeking medical help at the first signs of a heart attack is paramount as you need to have the blockage cleared, which will allow your heart to function normally again.

A matter of electricity

With cardiac arrest, there’s an electrical malfunction in your heart that causes an arrhythmia. While many people live with minor arrhythmias, a cardiac arrest is when your heart ceases to pump blood, and within minutes you will die.

As you can see, a cardiac arrest is one of the most serious medical events that can affect your body and seconds matter. During a cardiac arrest, the person often gasps for air and needs CPR immediately — better still, they need the aid of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to jumpstart their heart again.

The link between heart attack and cardiac arrest

While a heart attack and cardiac arrest are different, there is an association. Most heart attacks don’t end with cardiac arrest, but most instances of cardiac arrest are precipitated by a heart attack.

This means that the steps you take during a heart attack are extremely important so that you can prevent a cardiac arrest. In fact, any time you or a loved one experiences any onset of symptoms that involve the function of your heart, you should call 911 immediately as there’s no time to waste.

For our part, our goal is to look after your cardiovascular health to prevent either occurrence from developing in the first place.

If you’d like to learn more about great prevention techniques when it comes to your heart health, please contact our office in Humble, Texas, to set up an appointment.

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