Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack: What’s the Difference?

small heart

The terms heart attack and cardiac arrest are often used interchangeably, but there are key differences between the two events. Blocked coronary arteries cause a heart attack, while an abnormality in cardiac electrical activity defines cardiac arrest. Let’s take a deeper dive into these two medical challenges.

What is a Heart Attack?

The heart needs enough oxygen supply to pump blood across the whole body. This oxygen-rich blood is supplied to the heart by the vessels known as coronary arteries. Sometimes, coronary arteries get blocked by some fats deposited over the walls of the arteries, which is a condition called atherosclerosis. This event leads to a decreased oxygen-rich blood supply to the cardiac muscles leading to a heart attack.

What is a Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is a condition characterized by the impaired electrical activity of the heart. The disturbed electrical activity of the heart causes irregular heartbeats. The irregular heartbeats can result in a sudden loss of cardiac activity leading to cardiac arrest and, at times, death.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

The following points can help differentiate between heart attack and cardiac arrest: 

  • A heart attack is a blood circulatory problem, while cardiac arrest is associated with electrical activity disruption of the heart.
  • In a heart attack, blood flow might stop, while in cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating.
  • In a heart attack, body organs might get their blood supply even after the attack, while cardiac arrest stops the heart pumping, depriving the body organs of blood.
  • Most heart attacks are due to coronary heart disease, while cardiac arrest can be due to the abnormal rhythm of the heart.

Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack Symptoms

The following are the symptoms of cardiac arrest and heart attack:

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Vomiting and nausea

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Palpitations
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Lightheadedness/ Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble breathing
  • Indigestion/ Nausea
  • Fatigue

Causes of Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack:

The following are some common causes of these conditions.

Cardiac Arrest Causes

  • Heart attack
  • Pacemaker failure
  • Choking
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular rhythm of the heart
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Use of illicit drugs
  • Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Electrocution
  • Hereditary disorders of the heart
  • Certain medicines
  • Dramatic drop in blood pressure

Heart Attack Causes

  • Unhealthy diet
  • History of heart diseases in the family
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol level
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activities
  • Aging
  • diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Stress

In both cases, it’s crucial to call for help immediately. Try to call an ambulance instead of rushing the patient to the hospital. The chances of receiving faster treatment are maximum when the patient arrives via an ambulance.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: