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    You are here: Home > Pharmacy News | Health Articles/Tips > General > November 12, 2018

      Heart attack vs cardiac arrest: What’s the difference?

      These are two terms that we come across and they are usually confused with each other. The major difference is that when someone has a heart attack, this is the result of the blockage of blood flow to the heart whereas in a sudden cardiac arrest, the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating.  A heart attack is a circulation problem whereas a cardiac arrest is an electrical problem.

      How does a heart attack occur?
      When a blocked artery stops the supply of oxygen-rich blood to a section of the heart, a heart attack occurs. In case, the blocked artery does not get opened soon, the portion of the heart to which it supplies blood starts dying. The longer the time taken to treat it, the greater the damage is likely to be.

      Symptoms of a heart attack

      A heart attack may have symptoms that start hours, days or even weeks before the actual attack occurs.

      Symptoms include:

      • Chest pain usually felt as a tightness in the center of the chest which may last for several minutes and will not decrease upon resting. However, not all will experience chest pain.
      • Chest pain spreading to other areas
      • Sweating
      • Weakness
      • Palpitations 
      • Shortness of breath
      • Coughing
      • Wheezing
      • Anxiety
      • Light-headedness or dizziness


      How does a cardiac arrest occur?

      This can occur suddenly and with no prior warning. This is caused by electrical malfunction in the heart leading to an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Once the heart’s pumping activity is interrupted, it’s unable to pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Mere seconds later, the person loses consciousness and pulse stops. After this, death may happen within minutes if there is no immediate treatment. 

      Symptoms of cardiac arrest

      • Sudden loss of consciousness/responsiveness
      • No breathing
      • No pulse

      Early warning signs of cardiac arrest

      • Dizziness
      • Palpitations
      • Weakness
      • Nausea 
      • Chest pain
      • Shortness of breath



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