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Heart Attack VS Cardiac Arrest

Welcome to the fifth edition of The Rhythm Report!

In this edition, we will answer the most commonly asked question – Heart attack vs Cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest and heart attack, although both are heart-related conditions, differ greatly in their nature and the sensations they elicit. They are two distinct cardiac events with unique causes, symptoms and outcomes. Understanding the difference between these two medical emergencies is crucial for medical professionals and anyone who might witness or experience these conditions, as prompt and appropriate responses can save lives.

Cardiac arrest is a sudden and unexpected cessation of the heart’s normal electrical activity leading to a sudden stoppage of blood flow to the body’s vital organs, including the brain. This abrupt interruption causes the individual to lose consciousness and may result in death if immediate medical intervention is not provided. It is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate CPR and D-fib.

During cardiac arrest, the heart’s rhythm becomes chaotic, leading to a condition called ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. The heart muscle twitches or quivers in these abnormal rhythms instead of contracting effectively to pump blood. The lack of effective pumping prevents oxygenated blood from reaching the brain, causing the person to collapse and become unresponsive rapidly.

Cardiac arrest typically occurs so suddenly that there is often no time for the person to express their sensations, and they lose consciousness almost immediately.


A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, occurs when there is a sudden blockage in one of the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. The blockage is most commonly caused by the formation of a blood clot over a pre-existing fatty deposit in the artery. The lack of blood flow to a portion of the heart muscle leads to its injury or death, resulting in chest pain and potential damage to the heart’s health.

The most typical symptom of a heart attack is angina or chest pain, which can vary in intensity and duration. The most typical symptom of a heart attack is angina or chest pain, which can vary in intensity and duration. The symptoms may develop gradually over hours or even days in some cases, providing some individuals with an opportunity to recognize the signs and seek medical attention.

The key difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack lies in the heart’s activity during the events. Cardiac arrest involves the heart suddenly stopping its pumping action due to chaotic electrical activity, while a heart attack is caused by a blockage in a coronary artery, leading to damage to a portion of the heart muscle.

In any case of suspected cardiac arrest or heart, emergency services should be immediately called, as both conditions are life-threatening and require immediate medical intervention to improve the chances of survival and minimise the complications.


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