Cardiac arrest vs heart attack: What’s the difference?

The terms “Heart attack” and “Cardiac arrest” are often used interchangeably. However, medically speaking, the two imply completely different heart conditions. Here’s a simple decoding of the two to help you understand why they are not synonymous.What is a cardiac arrest?Cardiac arrests can occur suddenly without any sort of warning. They are triggered by the electrical malfunctioning in the heart that causes the heart to beat irregularly. A cardiac arrest occurs because of rapid heartbeat called as Ventricular Tachycardia or Ventricular Fibrillation, but at times can be due to extreme slowing of heart rate, which ultimately leads to stopping of heartbeats, according to Dr Hasmukh Ravat, senior interventional cardiologist and HOD-cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

When the pumping action of the heart is disrupted due to abnormal beating, it cannot pump blood to brain, lungs and other organs. The person becomes unconscious within a second to a minute, stops breathing and has no pulse and blood pressure. Death occurs within minutes if no treatment is received. However, cardiac arrest is reversible if proper and timely treatment is given.What is a heart attack?A heart attack occurs when a patient’s arteries are blocked and they prevent the oxygen-rich blood from being transported to a certain section of the heart. If the blockage of the artery is not removed quickly, the part of the heart would start to die without the blood flow that nourishes it. A heart attack is mainly caused due to a coronary heart, disease, which is the deposition of fatty deposits building up in the coronary arteries.

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