Tag Archives: arrythmias

Difference between Cardiac arrest and Heart attack

Many people confuse the two terms as being the same. Here are the essential differences.

American Heart Association published an infographic to help understand the difference between Cardiac arrest and Heart attack.

The heart has a conducting system that can be thought of as an internal electrical system. This ‘electric system’ maintains the normal rhythm of the heart. A problem in this system can cause abnormal beating which could be slow, fast, skip beats or abnormal in its rhythm. This is called as arrhythmias.
When an arrhythmia causes the heart to stop beating it results in a Cardiac arrest.

In addition to the electrical system that causes the heart to beat, there is a blood vessel system in the heart. These vessels supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscles.
A blockage in the blood vessels is what causes a Heart attack.

A Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency – Without medical attention, a person can die in a few minutes. A defibrillator can save a life if readily available.  The defibrillator works by sending an electrical stimulus to restore the rhythm. In case a defibrillator is not available,  a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be attempted.

The symptoms of a heart attack mostly start slowly. It is possible for a heart attack to result in immediate death as well. A heart attack does not cause the heart to stop but rather limits its ability to pump enough blood. Because of this weak pumping – There is a backflow of blood and fluid to the lungs causing shortness of breath. This also results in the fluid accumulating in other dependent parts of the body causing swelling of the feet and ankles.

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