Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest: How Are They Different?


People now days often use these two terms together, one is cardiac arrest and the other is a heart attack but to be noted, they are absolutely not synonyms. Both the interchangeably used terms have totally different meaning.

Cardiac arrest is basically when one’s heart breakdowns and stops beating surprisingly and suddenly it malfunctions.

On the other hand, heart attack is when the blood stream stops towards the heart causing slow heartbeat. In more clear words, cardiac arrest is an ‘electrical problem’ while a heart attack is a ‘circulation problem’.

Although the risk factors may be the same from person to person, understanding the differences between these conditions can be a matter of life and death.


Heart attack happens when the blood flow is restricted towards the heart, causing heart’s function to be affected. One of the main reason for this is coronary heart disease. Coronary heart diseases cause a panel to build inside the arteries. If this panel ruptures, it develops the clotting of the blood inside the arteries that blocks the blood stream to certain portion of the heart causing heart attack. With less oxygen to the heart, the muscle starts to die. If the treatment is hindered, it could cause greater damage to the heart and even to the more organs.

Symptoms of Heart Attack

  • Severe pain and discomfort in the chest, upper abdominal area, arms, jaw and tightness between shoulder blades.
  • Tightness and pain in the chest.
  • Extremely slow or fast heartbeat. (Abnormal heartbeat)
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Cold sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion and vomiting
  • Short breathing


Cardiac arrest occurs when the blood flow to the heart, brain and the other important organs stops that also stops the heartbeat. When the electrical system of the heart stops or goes on fritz mode, it can result in an irregular heartbeat or even arrhythmias. Arrhythmias that can cause cardiac arrest is known as ventricular fibrillation. Sudden cardiac arrest can also occur after the recovery of heart attack or even before that. Heart attack increases the risk of cardiac arrests and if not taken proper care; sudden cardiac arrest can cause death in 8 to 10 minutes.

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

  • Unconsciousness
  • Low breathing
  • Eyes rolling back to the head or turning white
  • Skin turning blue
  • Low or no pulses

Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest vs Stroke

Either it is a heart attack or cardiac arrest, proper medical care is important because anything related to the heart is not something to take lightly.



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