Many people assume that a heart attack is the same thing as cardiac arrest. There are many similarities, but they are actually very different from each other.
Let’s talk about the differences between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, and what to do if you or someone you care about is displaying the symptoms.
What Is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack occurs when there is a total blockage of normal blood flow to the heart. Also called myocardial infarction, it is often caused by plaque (fatty deposit, or cholesterol) formation in the coronary artery as a result of a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. During a heart attack, the heart does not stop beating, unlike in cardiac arrest – however, a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest.
A heart attack is therefore due to a circulation problem. Your heart constantly needs oxygen-rich blood for nourishment, without which the heart will quickly begin to die.
Symptoms of a heart attack usually come on immediately. The person will experience severe discomfort in the chest area and feel short of breath. The patient may also break out in a cold sweat and feel nauseous.
Other heart attack symptoms include sudden jaw pain and back pain. It is also possible for heart attack symptoms to develop gradually, sometimes taking days before the heart attack actually takes place – wherein the person may experience uncomfortable symptoms over the course of several days.
Regardless of whether the symptoms come on quickly or slowly, a heart attack is always a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately in order to help prevent permanent damage to the heart.
How Is Cardiac Arrest Different?
A cardiac arrest is where the heart stops beating. Just like a heart attack, cardiac arrest is an emergency. The person will experience irregularity in the beating of their heart, which can disrupt the normal pumping of blood to the brain and other internal organs.
Cardiac arrest is usually triggered by an electrical problem in the heart. Patients with heart disease are more likely to experience cardiac arrest than are those who do not have heart disease. Ultimately, cardiac arrest is life-threatening, and the patient may suddenly stop breathing. Call 911 right away.
What to Do for a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest
Call for emergency medical help immediately in both cases, since they are considered life-threatening medical emergencies where every minute counts. Furthermore, if you are caring for someone with heart conditions, it is best to learn how to administer CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED), and to have an AED ready for use if necessary.
Primary Care for Heart Health in North Richland Hills, Texas
Here at EMC Express Care, our experienced medical team offers primary care to patients who are at risk of heart conditions. Our compassionate physicians provide a personal touch and will give you an evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment so you can get back to living your life.
Just walk right in during our extended hours every day! If you have any questions about our urgent care clinic, feel free to call us at (817) 503-8800. We look forward to taking care of you and your family.