Important differences between heart attack and cardiac arrest

Heart crises are among the most common reasons people seek emergency care. However, not all heart emergencies are the same. Many people use the terms heart attack and cardiac arrest interchangeably, however, they are very different. If you go to the hospital for heart care, the treatment you get will be determined by the specific kind of crisis you are having. Here is a look at how these heart conditions differ.

Heart attack
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked because of a blockage in an artery. When this occurs, the oxygenated blood can’t reach the part of the heart that is served by that artery. If blood flow is not restored, that part of the heart will die. The damage will continue to spread through the heart until blood flow is restored. However, the heart does not usually stop beating.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical problem in the heart that causes the heart beat to become irregular. When this happens, blood flow to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body is stopped completely.

Cardiac arrest occurs very suddenly, usually without any warning signs at all. Almost instantly, the person experiencing cardiac arrest will lose consciousness. It is extremely important for a person suffering from cardiac arrest to get care immediately, or loss of life can occur.

Are they related?
Having a heart attack in the past can increase the risk for cardiac arrest. Some people also experience cardiac arrest in the course of a heart attack. In both cases, having heart health issues can increase the risk of experiencing a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center provides emergency care around the clock to help people with heart health conditions care the urgent care they need fast. Find out more about our emergency room and cardiac care services by calling (702) 233-5300.

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