Heart Attack Vs Cardiac Arrest – The Difference

Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest;

Heart Attack Vs Cardiac Arrest - Modern HealthMe, Healthline, WebMD
Lady with Heart Attack; Image Courtesy-Freepik

When it comes to heart health, knowing the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest could save lives. Here’s a breakdown:

1. Heart Attack:

  • What is it?
    A heart attack happens when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot.
  • Causes:
    Plaque buildup in the arteries is the main culprit. This buildup can rupture and form a clot, blocking blood flow.
  • Symptoms:
    Chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, and pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Response:
    Seek emergency medical help immediately. Quick treatment can prevent or limit damage to the heart muscle.

2. Cardiac Arrest:

  • What is it?
    Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, often due to an electrical malfunction in the heart.
  • Causes:
    It can be triggered by a heart attack, but other factors like arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), drowning, trauma, or drug overdose can also cause it.
  • Symptoms:
    Sudden loss of consciousness, no pulse, and no breathing.
  • Response:
    Immediate CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) are crucial to restore the heart’s rhythm and increase the chances of survival.

Heart Attack Vs Cardiac Arrest – Key Differences:

  • Location:
    A heart attack involves a blockage in the arteries, while cardiac arrest is a sudden stop in the heart’s pumping action.
  • Symptoms:
    Heart attack symptoms often develop over time, while cardiac arrest happens suddenly without warning.
  • Treatment:
    Heart attacks require emergency medical attention, whereas cardiac arrest demands immediate CPR and AED use to restore the heart’s rhythm.


Understanding the differences between a heart attack and cardiac arrest is vital. Knowing the symptoms and appropriate responses can help in providing timely assistance, potentially saving lives. Remember, acting fast is crucial in any cardiac emergency.

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