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  • Category: Cardiology

    Difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest?

    Wondering about the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest? Follow the responses in this Ask Expert page to understand the difference between the two heart problems.

    I have seen the people use the words heart attack and cardiac arrest often. I thought that both heart attack and cardiac arrest are same but my fried told me that heart attack is caused due to blood flow problem and cardiac arrest is due to heart pumping problem. However I am still unclear about the difference. Can anybody here explain?
  • Answers

    3 Answers found.
  • Cardiac arrest is failure of the heart to contract timely which results into stoppage of circulation of blood. heart attack is due to poor blood flow due to blockage of arteries carrying to heart.

    Ashok Goyal

  • In medical terminology, heart attack or cardiac arrest is called myocardiac infraction or acute myocardiac infraction. The commonly used terminology by people is heart attack (but there is on attack of some foreign particles on the heart) and those people who know some medical terminology prefer to call it as cardiac arrest as the working of the heart will be ceased in this condition.

    The main cause of cardiac arrest or myocardiac infraction are as follows:

    1. Blocking of coronary arteries:
      coronary arteries which carry the blood from the heart to other body parts or coronary veins which carry blood from other body parts to body will be subjected to blockage if there is any accumulation of dead cells or calcium in the blood vesseles which makes the arteries and veins to loose their elasticity and also formation of hard substances can eventually block the whole vessel in due coarse of time.

      This will cause deficiency of oxygen to heart muscles or cardiac muscles usually called as myocardium which causes death of muscle cells in heart leading to inefficient working of myocardium. The pumping of blood will also be effected due to un periodic contraction and expansion of muscles which can be diagnosed in electro cardiogram E.C.G. The blocking of blood vesseles can be so severe that myocardium might stop working leading to cardiac arrest.

    2. Improper formation of heart muscles which can also effect pumping capacity of heart.

    3. Irregular electrical signaling by brain.

    Symptoms of cardiac arrest:
    1. Pain in the chest area.
    2. Uneasiness in heart area and pain gradually travels over chest area and extends to left hand.
    3.dizziness with headache (caused due to improper pumping of heart which leads to less oxygen supply to brain)
    4. Tiredness due to less oxygen supply to other body parts and muscles.

    When you notice such symptoms, immediatly contact a cardiothoriac physician for a heart check up.

    Venkat Satish Mamidisetti,
    Power Plant Operations Engineer.

  • Generally it is believed that both the terms are same but it is not true. A heart attack comes when the arteries which supplies blood to the heart muscles gets blocked suddenly.

    The blockage of blood supply to the muscle can lead to the death of heart muscle. It can happen because of the excess of plaque in the artery. With the help of surgery the regular blood flow can be reinstate and damage to the muscles can be saved.

    On the other hand, a cardiac arrest is caused by ventricular fibrillation that is an abrupt heart arrhythmia. On this condition the electrical signals within the heart get entirely messy.

    Generally electrical signals are responsible to control timing and function of heart beats. When these signals go messy the heart stops beating and can lead to sudden death.


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