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Differences between a Heart Attack & Cardiac Arrest

Heart Attack & Cardiac Arrest

Both a heart attack and cardiac arrest are life-threatening medical crises. Recognizing the characteristics of each and knowing what measures to take may save a life.

Distinguishing the Difference Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Would you be relieved or more concerned if a physician told you that your loved one had just suffered a heart attack instead of cardiac arrest? Would you understand the difference between those two definitions?

Medical definitions may confuse everybody, but in this case, there are essential differences between these two cardiac events.

Problems with the body’s circulation system blocking blood flow to the heart may cause a heart attack. Coronary artery disease causes most heart attacks. In addition, lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, your age, and other medical issues may increase your risk of a heart attack. Heart attacks are prevalent in the United States of America.

A cardiac arrest is a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system. Frequently the arrhythmias that interfere with the heart’s rhythm and the electrical system may cause cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart’s rhythm stops.

Next, we will compare these two conditions’ symptoms, causes, treatments, and the outlook for sufferers.

Understanding the Differences: Heart Attack Vs Cardiac Arrest

A heart attack, frequently known as a myocardial infarction, happens when an interruption or a blockage of the blood that usually flows to the heart. Without sufficient oxygen-rich blood flowing to the heart, it may cause damage to one of the body’s most essential organs, and the heart muscle may begin to die.

On the other hand, a cardiac arrest is what everyone knows as sudden cardiac death. The word “arrest” means to stop, detain, or cease. In cardiac arrest, the heart halts beating, a severe health problem. Therefore, cardiac arrest may cause almost immediate death or disability.

Comparison of the Symptoms of a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Both a heart attack and cardiac arrest are life-threatening medical emergencies. Therefore, it is helpful to know the symptoms of each one of them.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Heart attacks frequently begin with sudden chest pain, but they may additionally start gradually with mild pain that comes and goes, lasting several hours. Symptoms of a heart attack may vary, and if you have had one heart attack, your signs may be different if you experience another.

Symptoms may also vary between men and women, but for both sexes, the most typical indicator of a heart attack is chest pain. However, women are more prone than men to experience other symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, vomiting, nausea, and back or jaw pain.

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

Cardiac arrests may frequently happen in individuals unaware they have a heart problem. An individual experiencing cardiac arrest may collapse and lose consciousness. They may stop breathing or experience shortness of breath.

Differences and Similarities of Symptoms of Heart Attack Vs Cardiac Arrest

Heart Attack Symptoms                          Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

–          Symptoms may increase over time (not always). Chest pain is the most typical symptom

–          Symptoms may increase over time (not always).

–          Chest pain, discomfort in the middle or left part of the chest, or heaviness.

–          Dizziness.

–          Soreness or aching in one or both arms, back, neck, shoulders, jaw, or above the belly button.

–          Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing.

–          Shortness of breath when resting or doing some physical activity (a situation more prevalent in older adults).

–          Weakness or fatigue.

–          Heavy sweating for no reason.

–          Vomiting and nausea.

–          Feeling unusually weary for no reason, sometimes for days (more frequent in women).

–          Heart palpitations or chest pain.

–          Nausea and vomiting.

–          Without a pulse.

–          Sudden lightheadedness or dizziness.

–          Without breathing or breathing with difficulty.

–          Rapid or irregular heart rate

–          Loss of consciousness.

Causes and Risk Factors for Heart Attack Vs Cardiac Arrest

The reasons and risk components for heart attacks and cardiac arrests differ. Many individuals who experienced a heart attack were aware they were at risk. Cardiac arrests, on the other hand, often occur in individuals unknowing they have a heart problem and not knowing of the risks.

Causes of a Heart Attack

Coronary artery disease depriving your heart of oxygen usually causes heart attacks. Most of the time, individuals know they are at risk for a heart attack because they are undergoing treatment for heart disease.

Risk factors for a heart attack may include the following:

  • An unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar (diabetes)
  • Being overweight


Causes of Cardiac Arrests

Certain heart conditions and health factors may raise your chances of cardiac arrest, including coronary heart disease. Other factors that people may not always know about and could also put you at risk are:

  • Irregularly shaped heart valves
  • Congenital (hereditary) disease
  • An enlarged heart
  • Electrical impulse problems
  • Smoking
  • A previous heart attack
  • Substance misuse
  • Family history of heart disease

Diagnosing Heart Attacks Vs Cardiac Arrests

A physician can distinguish between cardiac arrests and a heart attack by performing specific tests. This knowledge is one of many justifications for getting immediate medical attention if you or anyone you know suspects you are experiencing a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

Heart Attack Diagnosis

Healthcare providers identify a heart attack by executing a physical exam and requesting an electrocardiogram to check your heart’s electrical activity.

A physician may order an echocardiogram or cardiac insertion to determine the strength and vitality of your heart. It is also common to have a blood sample taken to check for signs of heart muscle damage.

Cardiac Arrests Diagnosis

Cardiac arrest means your heart has stopped. Without immediate resuscitation, it is fatal.

If a physician can restart your heart and get the blood flowing again, that physician will perform symptomatic tests to establish the origin of your cardiac arrest. These examinations may involve an echocardiogram, blood analyses, and a chest x-ray to check for other signs of heart disease.

Treatment Options for Heart Attack Vs Cardiac Arrests

Treatment alternatives for heart attacks and cardiac arrests rely on factors such as:

  • The severity of heart attacks or cardiac arrests.
  • Your health and ability to withstand surgeries or other procedures.
  • Other medical conditions you may have and prescription medications you are taking.

Heart Attack Treatment

If you have had a heart attack, a physician may recommend several strategies depending on the severity of the situation to help relieve pain, avert another heart attack, or both.

Some of these procedures or treatments may include:

  • Angioplasty
  • A stent
  • Heart valve surgery
  • Heart bypass surgery
  • Pacemaker insertion
  • In some situations, a heart transplant.

Cardiac Arrests Treatment

Treatment for cardiac arrests almost always begins with CPR or a defibrillator to make the heart work again. Once somebody has survived a cardiac arrest, a physician will likely start one or more treatments to help reduce the risk of it happening again. These often include:

  • Surgery
  • Leading a healthier and more active lifestyle
  • medications

Outlook for an Individual With a Heart Attack Vs Cardiac Arrest

Although heart attacks are life-threatening, most individuals survive them and go on to live active lives. If you get help quickly, your treatment may limit damage to the heart muscle.

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits increases the likelihood of a good recovery. Working with a medical team to create a recovery plan that best suits you is essential.

Getting consistent, moderate physical activity, eating healthy, losing weight if you are overweight, and quitting smoking if you smoke, are some actions you can do to help improve your outlook.

The prognosis for an individual who has had a cardiac arrest depends on how long it takes to revive the heart after cardiac arrest. The recovery time may also vary.

It will likely take longer to heal if you experience brain damage due to loss of consciousness, severe bruising, or broken bones from CPR.

Recovery from coronary bypass surgery or other lifesaving invasive procedures may also require more time to return to health.

Remarkable improvements may result from prescribed treatments and medications after a cardiac arrest. Still, the prognosis for a person also depends on the severity of the event and their health.

Treatment works best when given right away. Warning signs may differ in different individuals.

If you have angina, it is vital to comprehend how and when to look for medical treatment:

  • Tingling or dullness of your face, leg, or arm on one side of your body
  • Dizziness, loss of balance, or difficulty walking
  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
  • Severe, sudden headache

If you experience any alert signs, call 9-1-1; you can help avoid permanent harm by going to a hospital within one hour of a stroke.

Your recovery relies on how quickly you get to a physician or a healthcare professional.

We are Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, a diagnostic and preventative medicine cardiology practice. For more information, contact us.

Every heart has a story… What’s yours?

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Modern Heart and Vascular, a preventive cardiology medical practice, has several offices around Houston. We have locations in Humble, Cleveland, The Woodlands, Katy, and Livingston.

We are Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, a diagnostic and preventative medicine cardiology practice.

Every heart has a story… What’s yours?

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At the Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, we offer state-of-the-art cardiovascular care with innovative diagnostic tools and compassionate patient care. Our priority at Modern Heart and Vascular Institute is prevention. We help patients lead healthier lives by avoiding unnecessary procedures and surgeries.

Contact us online to learn more and book an appointment. If you’d like to learn more about our practice, read our providers’ bios.

This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.

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