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Is Cardiac Arrest Different from Heart Attack?

4 Mins read

Under normal circumstances both a heart attack and a sudden cardiac arrest are major medical crises, they are two separate disorders that call for different treatment. When blood supply to the heart is blocked, a heart attack occurs. The heart can malfunction and stop beating suddenly, which is known as sudden cardiac arrest. While sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical issue, a heart attack is a circulatory issue.

To explain this even further, when an artery (blood vessel) that feeds blood to the heart tissue is blocked, a heart attack happens. The heart normally continues to beat even if this results in an oxygen supply shortage, the loss of cardiac cells, and symptoms including chest pain. Contrarily, cardiac arrest denotes the cessation of heartbeat. Although there are numerous additional reasons for cardiac arrest, heart attacks do occasionally cause it.

With a slight difference, Cardiac arrest is a term used to describe a condition in which the heart stops supplying the brain and other organs and tissues with blood and oxygen. It may result from major heart attacks as well as other conditions that stop the heart from beating.

Now that we know the difference already, let’s explore the terms a little further.

What Causes a Heart Attack?

When your heart’s blood flow is blocked, it is unable to receive the oxygen it requires, which results in a heart attack. Myocardial infarctions (MIs) are another name for heart attacks. “Infarction” denotes the death of tissue as a result of a lack of blood supply. “Myo” stands for muscle, “cardial” denotes the heart. Your cardiac muscle may endure long-lasting harm as a result of this tissue death. The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from one individual to the next or from one attack to another. While some of them still might cause you to feel uncomfortable, heavy, tight, squeezed, or painful in your chest, arm, or area below your breastbone.

What Causes a Heart Attack
How can Cardiac Arrest happen?

When the heart is not pumping blood to the brain and other tissues quickly enough, cardiac arrest happens. When the heart’s pumping function is impaired, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse. If the person doesn’t receive care, death happens in a matter of minutes. An irregular cardiac beat is one prevalent reason, particularly in adults. When someone chokes on anything or drowns, for example, halting breathing is another cause that could occur. A severe lung infection or untreated asthma episode that makes it difficult for the person to breathe could also trigger cardiac arrest. Also capable of bringing on cardiac arrest is a very sizable blood clot in the lung. Finding the cause of cardiac arrest when it happens is frequently challenging.

What’s more serious? Heart Attack vs. Cardiac Arrest

Heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest are both severe medical situations that may be fatal. In contrast, cardiac arrest is usually more serious since, without prompt medical attention, it can be fatal within minutes. Even if a heart attack is less severe and less hazardous right away, it can still be highly harmful. Due to the potential for serious consequences or death, these illnesses must be treated right away. It’s of vital importance to recognize the risks and be informed about your own health because those who are predisposed to either ailment may have many risk factors, including a history of smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle. 

Most Heart Attacks May Not Be Cardiac Arrest

While cardiac arrest can result from a heart attack, it seldom does. Although the blockage that results in a heart attack might happen suddenly, the heart’s arteries normally constrict over a longer period of time before the occlusion does. Blood artery narrowing (also known as atherosclerosis) is a risk factor for high blood pressure, diabetes, sedentary behavior, and food decisions. When people exert themselves, chest pain is brought on by the restricted blood flow as the constriction gets worse. The restricted blood flow may not create any pain or discomfort during normal activities, but when an individual exerts themselves, it may result in chest pain. The pain usually goes away as soon as the exertion is stopped. This condition is known as angina.

Cardiac Arrest

It is a symptom of blockage but usually does not cause actual heart muscle damage. These symptoms frequently get worse with time. The amount of physical effort required to feel the same discomfort and symptoms will gradually decrease with time. Patients should discuss these concerns with their primary care physician, who might suggest a stress test or refer them to a cardiologist.

If the pain persists, a heart attack may be imminent.


  1. Can a heart attack be caused by stress?

    The widely held belief that stress and anxiety may raise the incidence of SCA is backed up by numerous observational research. Anxiety increases the risk of SCA through mechanisms that take time, in part through influencing other risk factors for SCA (especially in physically fit individuals).

  2. How may the risk of cardiac arrest be decreased?
    For optimum health, follow these recommendations:

    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Do not smoke.
    • Consume a diet that is balanced and healthful.
    • Get moderate activity for at least 150 minutes every week.
    • Control the stress.

  3. Can cardiac arrest be inherited?

    Clogged arteries are frequently linked to heart attacks. All of those factors, however, are not the only ones that can result in sudden cardiac death; gene abnormalities can also be to blame.

  4. Can children get heart attacks?

    Unless they have a condition of the heart muscle or an irregular coronary artery path or origin, children rarely get heart attacks.

  5. Can heart attacks be avoided?

    However, the good news is that 80% of early heart attacks and strokes can be avoided. The keys to prevention are a healthy diet, frequent exercise, and quitting tobacco.


It is widely known that a lot of people struggle with either of the above conditions. Cardiovascular disease claims one American life every 33 seconds. The first step toward having a healthy heart is to stay physically active and eat a balanced diet. As a result, living a healthy lifestyle is crucial.


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