The Difference Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms.

Cardiac arrest is an electrical problem. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).. Seconds later, a person becomes unresponsive, is not breathing or is only gasping. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.

A heart attack is a “circulation” problem. A blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die..

Sudden cardiac arrest isn’t so sudden. Many patients miss or even ignore the early warning signs, mostly chest pain or shortness of breath that may begin showing up weeks earlier. The survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest is less than seven percent, but with early detection and medical intervention, that rate jumps to 32 percent.

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