Oheneba Kwakye Omane
Oheneba Kwakye Omane

We've all heard the names, and both refer to a heart-related health problem. A common misconception is that heart attack and cardiac arrest are the same things. This is not the case, however. These terms are frequently used interchangeably, although they are not interchangeable. A heart attack happens when blood supply to the heart is obstructed, and sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops pumping unexpectedly... A heart attack is a "circulation" problem, but a sudden cardiac arrest is an "electrical" problem, according to science. To understand the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest, you must first comprehend what occurs during each of these events.

What is a heart attack?

Because the heart is a muscle, it needs oxygen-rich blood to function effectively. Coronary arteries deliver this to the heart. When the coronary arteries get blocked, a heart attack ensues. A blood clot is frequently to blame. If the blockage is not cleared immediately, sections of the heart muscle may begin to die. This is why people who have had a heart attack should be rushed into surgery to clear the obstruction and restore blood flow. A blood clot or plaque buildup in the arteries can impede blood flow to the heart during a heart attack.

The region of the heart that is regularly nourished by that artery begins to perish if the blocked artery is not restored immediately. The longer a person goes without therapy, the more serious the consequences become. Symptoms usually begin slowly and last for hours, days, or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike abrupt cardiac arrest, a heart attack normally does not cause the heart to cease beating. The heart continues to beat, but it is not receiving all of the oxygen-rich blood it needed due to the obstruction.

The symptoms of a heart attack in women differ from those in men. About a third of patients experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue days or weeks before having a heart attack. A heart attack causes pain in the middle of the chest, which can radiate to the back, jaw, and arms. Alternatively, discomfort may be felt in these areas rather than the chest. People who have stomach pain may mistake a heart attack for indigestion.

Fainting, abrupt sweating, Coughing, Wheezing, Light-headedness or dizziness, Sweating, Weakness, nausea, shortness of breath, a heavy hammering of the heart, irregular heart rhythms, and loss of consciousness are some of the other symptoms.

What is cardiac arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest happens unexpectedly and without warning. An erratic heartbeat is caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart, which kicks it off (arrhythmia). The heart can't pump blood to the brain, lungs, or other organs if its pumping activity is disturbed. A person loses consciousness and has no pulse seconds later. If the victim is not treated, he or she will die within minutes.

In cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and must be restarted. The vast majority of heart attacks do not result in death. On the other hand, a heart attack is a common cause of cardiac arrest. In many cases, cardiac arrest is a temporary condition that develops as a result of a medical emergency. Although heart disease is not always present, many individuals receive warning symptoms up to a month before cardiac arrest. Because the heart stops pumping, the brain, lungs, and other organs are deprived of the blood and oxygen they require. Cardiac arrest, if left untreated, can end in death within minutes.

Dizziness, loss of consciousness, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, palpitations, nausea, and shortness of breath are all symptoms of cardiac arrest. Within seconds following cardiac arrest, a person will become unresponsive and have difficulties breathing. If you suspect someone has gone into cardiac arrest, call an ambulance right away.

When CPR is combined with an automatic external defibrillator (AED), the survival rate increases by 23%. The goal of CPR is to get the blood flowing and circulating to the organs by pumping the heart. To restore the heart's regular rhythm, the AED delivers an electric shock.

What is the connection?

There is a relationship between these two different heart diseases. After a heart attack or during recovery, sudden cardiac arrest can occur. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen after a heart attack or during recovery. A heart attack is a common cause of abrupt cardiac arrest. Other heart issues can potentially disturb the heart's rhythm, leading to sudden cardiac arrest. Heart muscle thickening (cardiomyopathy), heart failure, and arrhythmias, particularly ventricular fibrillation.

What to Do: Have a Heart Attack

Call your emergency response number even if you're not convinced it's a heart attack. Every second counts! Staff from emergency medical services can start treating patients as soon as they arrive, which might be up to an hour faster than if someone arrived by automobile. EMS personnel are also trained to resuscitate a person whose heart has stopped beating. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance frequently receive speedier treatment at the hospital, too.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What to Do

Most patients with a cardiac arrest can be revived if they are treated quickly. To begin, call for immediate medical assistance. Then, if one is available, get an automatic external defibrillator and utilize it as soon as it arrives. Start CPR as soon as possible and keep it going until professional emergency medical assistance arrives. If there are two individuals available to aid, one should start CPR right away while the other dials 911 and locate an AED.

Causes of heart attacks and cardiac arrests

A variety of conditions can induce cardiac arrest. These are some of them:

· Ventricular fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) in which the heart's lower chambers (ventricles) beat erratically.

· Tachycardia in the ventricles

· Coronary heart disease

· Changes in the structure of the heart

· Failure of a pacemaker

· Respiratory failure

· Choking

· Drowning

· Electrocution

· Hypothermia

· Drug abuse

· Alcoholism

But what about the actual heart attacks? What causes them to happen? Heart attacks, unlike cardiac arrests, are usually caused by a single factor: coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is a disorder caused by fatty deposits forming in the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with oxygenated blood. Atherosclerosis is another name for this condition. Those who are most at risk for CHD are:

· Smokers

· Those who consume a high-saturated-fat diet

· Those who have high blood pressure

· Diabetic patients

· Obese or overweight persons

· People who do not exercise regularly, especially older men

· Those who come from a family with a history of heart disease.

· People who have been exposed to pollution in the air, especially traffic pollution

A heart attack can occur when a plaque (a raised area on the arterial wall) separates and forms a blood clot, which then closes the coronary artery.


In conclusion, there is a distinction to be made between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest. A heart attack happens when the blood flow to a segment of the heart stops, causing that section of the heart muscle to die, whereas a cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating completely. I believe you have learnt the difference between the two now and would apply them appropriately.


  1. American Heart Association, Inc. Heart Attack and Sudden Cardiac Arrest Differences | American Heart Association. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/about-heart-attacks/heart-attack-or-sudden-cardiac-arrest-how-are-they-different#:~:text=People%20often%20use%20these%20terms,and%20suddenly%20stops%20beating%20unexpectedly.

2. April Cashin-Garbutt. News-Medical.Net. Heart attack and cardiac arrest difference (news-medical.net) Retrieved from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Heart-attack-and-cardiac-arrest-difference.aspx

3. Cedars-Sinai Staff. Difference Between Heart Attack, Failure & Arrest | Cedars-Sinai. Retrieved from https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/heart-attack-cardiac-arrest-and-heart-failure.html.


Oheneba Kwakye Omane

Health Enthusiast and Futurist