Heart Attack vs. Cardiac Arrest – How to Tell the Difference

By Lifeline Hospital, Health & Wellness Partner


Lifeline Hospital
Health & Wellness Partner

February 05, 2019

A heart attack and cardiac arrest are not the same! Please stop confusing the two! People need to take this fact seriously. A wrong diagnosis can lead to death! It’s time to lay the facts straight and differentiate between these two heart-stoppers.

Heart Attack

A heart attack is when the blood flow going towards the heart gets blocked. This can happen from a blood clot forming or the thickening of the vessel walls due to cholesterol build-up. If the block is not reopened quickly, that part of the heart starts to die. The longer it takes for someone to get help, the more damage the heart will take. Symptoms can be immediate but more often begin slowly and persist for hours, days or even weeks if you keep ignoring it.

Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and just stops beating. The heart may not be a machine but it does have its own electricity which causes it to pump. Cardiac arrest usually happens suddenly without any warning signs. This malfunction causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) which disrupts the rhythm and eventually shuts it down. The heart ceases to pump blood to the brain, lungs, everywhere and seconds later the person loses consciousness and heartbeat. You can die within minutes if you don’t receive treatment.

The Link

Therefore, a heart attack is a “circulation” issue whereas cardiac arrest is an “electrical” issue. A heart attack is when the flow is cut off. Cardiac arrest is where your heart stops beating. If you have a heart attack, the heart does not necessarily stop beating but a heart attack can trigger cardiac arrest. This is why people get these two cases confused. You can get cardiac arrest from a heart attack but there are other factors that can cause cardiac arrest but a cardiac arrest would not cause a heart attack.

What to Do?

In both cases, call for medical emergency help immediately! Every minute counts! Call, explain the case and follow the instructions of the medical representative on what to do while waiting for help to arrive. This is essential to get medical help ASAP because they can begin treatment as soon as they arrive and along the way to the hospital. Make sure to note what happened, and the time because this is essential for the doctors to know for treatment.

Now that you know that there really is a difference, please spread the word and consult with a cardiologist especially if you or a loved one is at risk. It could happen to anyone at any time and being aware of the signs and acting quickly will make the difference between life and death. Do your best to be proactive in educating yourself about your health, get regular health checks, eat healthy, be active as much as possible and don’t ignore signs that could mean your life.


Note : Please login to submit comment

All Comments