Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest: The Same or Different?

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In the US, someone will have a heart attack every 40 seconds. Traumatic and often deadly. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

Unfortunately, after a heart attack, 8% of patients will have another heart attack within the first week. And 20% will have another heart attack within a year.

Sometimes patients don’t make it and have a cardiac arrest instead. But what’s the difference between a heart attack vs cardiac arrest?

Read on to learn, the differences between a heart attack vs cardiac arrest and how to help victims.

The Anatomy of Heart

Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body. It is about the size of your fist and is primarily located in the center of your chest.

The heart has four chambers. The right atrium and right ventricle, and the left atrium and left ventricle. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs, and the left side of the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body.

The walls of the heart have three layers. The inner layer (endocardium), the middle layer (myocardium), and the outer layer (epicardium). The endocardium is the layer that comes into contact with the blood.

The myocardium is the layer that contracts and pumps blood. The epicardium is the layer that covers the heart and protects it. Learn more about normal heart anatomy here.

Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States accounting for about one in every four deaths. It refers to many conditions that affect the heart including coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

One common misconception is that a heart attack and cardiac arrest are the same things. While they both involve the heart, they are actually different conditions.

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow supply to the heart is blocked. This is usually by a build-up of plaque in the blocked artery. This can cause the heart muscle to become damaged and can be fatal if not treated right away.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. This is most often caused by an abnormal heart rhythm and can be fatal if not treated immediately.

While both conditions can be life-threatening, it’s important to know the difference so that you can get the proper treatment.

Which is More Serious?

That actually depends on the individual situation. If someone is having a heart attack and receives timely medical treatment, they have a good chance of surviving.

Yet, if someone goes into cardiac arrest and isn’t treated immediately they will likely die.

Heart Failure Condition

Though both heart attack and cardiac arrest are life-threatening medical emergencies, they are not the same. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart has a blockage while cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops beating.

Heart attack vs cardiac arrest could be confusing so if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack or cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 immediately for a medical emergency.

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