Heart Attack vs. Cardiac Arrest: What's the Difference?
Though often used interchangeably, heart attack and cardiac arrest actually describe two different heart emergencies.
Here’s what you should know to help yourself or someone you love.
HEART ATTACK: CIRCULATORY BLOCKAGE
Q: What happens when an artery is blocked?
A: Anytime blood flow to the heart is blocked, the heart is deprived of oxygen. Lack of oxygen results in damage to the heart muscle.
Symptoms of Heart Attack:
You might experience these symptoms hours or even days before.
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
CARDIAC ARREST: ELECTRICAL INTERRUPTION
Q: Why does a heart stop beating?
A: The heart will stop beating when the electrical system of the heart suddenly stops or the body’s circulatory system fails.
Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest
You might experience these symptoms just moments before.
- Not breathing
- No pulse
DURING A HEART ATTACK OR CARDIAC ARREST EACH MINUTE IS IMPORTANT.
What to do during a Heart Attack
- Call 911
- Take or give the person aspirin (unless he or she has an allergy or a doctor directs you not to give)
What to do during a Cardiac Arrest
- Call 911
- Start hands-only CPR
- Use an automated external defibrillator (AED), if you have access to one. Follow directions on AED.