HOW IS SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST DIFFERENT TO A HEART ATTACK?
What is the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?
Many people often confuse both of these terms, but they are not the same. The symptoms and management of cardiac arrest are vastly different to a heart attack.
• Someone experiencing a heart attack will typically be awake, breathing, and in a lot of pain around the chest..
• Somebody in cardiac arrest however, will not be conscious or even breathing at all. They need immediate attention, call Triple Zero (000), starting CPR and get a defibrillator onto them as soon as possible.
A heart attack can sometimes deteriorate into causing cardiac arrest. Urgent response within 10 minutes of chest pain and/or other warning signs of heart attack starting may prevent a cardiac arrest in a person experiencing a heart attack.
It is important to call Triple Zero (000) as soon as possible if you think you see someone in cardiac arrest.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die. The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.
Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and intense. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike with sudden cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack.
WHAT TO DO:
Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 000 or your emergency response number. Every minute matters! It’s best to call 000 to get to the emergency room right away. Emergency medical services staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. Emergency services are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital.
What is cardiac arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and often without warning. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment. Read our article here.
WHAT TO DO:
Cardiac arrest is reversible in most victims if it’s treated within a few minutes. First, call 000 for emergency medical services. Then get an automated external defibrillator if one is available and use it as soon as it arrives. Begin CPR immediately and continue until professional emergency medical services arrive. If two people are available to help, one should begin CPR immediately while the other calls 000 and finds an AED.
*information from The Heart Organisation