What’s the Difference Between Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack

Many people refer to cardiac arrest and heart attack interchangeably, without knowing the actual difference between the two terms.

What is Cardiac Arrest?
Cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical malfunction that interferes with heart’s regular beat, resulting in arrhythmia, (irregular heartbeat). Arrhythmia prevents the heart from supplying blood to the brain and other organs, causing the person to become unresponsive and gasp for breath.

Immediate treatment is critical. First, call 911 (999 in the UK) and notify emergency personnel. Next, start CPR right away. If an Automated External Defibrillator (AE) is available, use it as soon as possible. If two trained people are available, one should apply CPR or hands-only CPR while the other calls 911 and locates an AED.

What is a Heart Attack?
Heart attacks are a blood circulation problem, and caused by the blocking of blood flow to the heart. If the block is not removed and blood flow not restored, the part of the heart fed by that artery starts to die.

Unlike cardiac arrest, the heart of a heart attack victim does not stop beating. Symptoms include upper body and chest discomfort, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, and/or, in women, jaw pain, and can last for day s or weeks before the attack occurs. Heart attacks may cause cardiac arrest, but other conditions may interfere with the heart’s electrical function.

Every second counts, so notify emergency medical services immediately. They can begin treatment when they arrive.

For More information
Read more about the difference between cardiac arrest vs heart attack in this linked article from the American Heart Association.