Cardiac Arrest & Heart Attacks: The Differences & How to React

alarm wall cabinetIn casual terms, cardiac arrest and heart attack sound like they’re almost the same thing. Yet, while both conditions share similarities, are life threatening, and relate to each other, there are several differences.

Cardiac Arrest

In general, cardiac arrests are electrical issues for the heart, in which the muscle pumping blood throughout your body stops completely.

What occurs? The same malfunction that results in an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, prevents the heart from moving blood through the body. The victim suddenly becomes unresponsive, and death may occur in minutes if the condition isn’t treated right away.

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What can you do? Experts recommend:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Perform CPR by making sharp and quick motions to get the blood pumping through the rest of the body.
  • If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is nearby, use it to shock the victim.

Heart Attacks

Heart attacks, by contrast, are a circulation problem. Symptoms vary a bit more, including the onset. Some victims, as a result, may gradually display common signs.

Heart attacks occur when a blocked artery obstructs the blood flowing to the heart. Symptoms include a combination of the following:

  • Pain or other discomfort in the chest, back, or jaw.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea or vomiting

Unlike cardiac arrest, the heart doesn’t fully stop beating. Instead, the section not receiving oxygen-rich blood starts to die. The longer the victim doesn’t receive treatment, the greater the damage could be.

Be aware that victims don’t always display all symptoms above; women, studies have shown, don’t always have chest pain.

Because of the similarities, heart attacks increase an individual’s risk for cardiac arrest. It’s also not unusual for sudden cardiac arrest to occur soon after a heart attack.

Too, when someone you know starts to display any of the above signs, take a similar course of action – call 911 immediately.

To keep your facility equipped for any of the above emergencies, train your employees on CPR and first aid, and have a clearly marked AED within the area.

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