Heart Attack v/s Cardiac Arrest

  • 17 months ago
3 minute read.
Heart Attack v/s Cardiac Arrest

Key points:

  • A heart attack is a "circulatory problem" and sudden cardiac arrest is an "electrical problem”.
  • During a heart attack, symptoms often begin slowly and last for hours, days, or weeks. Unlike sudden cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack.

What is a heart attack?

Imagine there is a blockage in the water pipe of your garden, and if you don’t water the flowers and trees, what is going to happen? They’ll die eventually. Similarly, when the artery that provides blood and oxygen to your heart gets blocked, it causes a heart attack. When the heart suddenly stops beating, it can lead to death if not intervened immediately.


Fat deposits accumulate over time and form plaque in the arteries of the heart. When plaque breaks and blocks arteries, blood clots form, which can cause a heart attack.

Other reasons/conditions that might lead to heart attack:

  • Family history of cardiac arrest
  • A previous heart attack
  • Growing older- the risk increases with age
  • Using high dosage drugs, such as cocaine
  • Nutritional imbalance, such as low magnesium levels
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Chronic kidney disease


  • Discomfort, stress, heaviness, tightness, squeezing, or soreness in your chest or arm
  • Uneasiness in back, jaw, throat
  • A choking feeling like heartburn
  • Excess sweating, upset stomach, nausea, or lightheadedness
  • Severe weakness, anxiety, exhaustion, or shortness of breath
  • Speedy or irregular heartbeat

Symptoms may vary from individual to individual and also according to gender. Women are more likely to experience-

  • Abnormal fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Soreness in the gut like indigestion
  • Discomfort in the neck, shoulder, or upper back


Take medicines as prescribed by a health professional, make healthy lifestyle changes, consult your doctor regularly for checkups, and consider Heart Health Comprehensive Screening with 69 essential parameters on The Wellness Corner.

What is cardiac arrest?

Our heart muscle is made of minute cells. The electrical system of the heart controls the timing of the heart pulse by sending a signal via these tiny cells.

Cardiac arrest occurs unexpectedly and without prior warning. This is due to an electrical fault in the heart that results in an irregular pulse/heartbeat rate.


When the mechanism of pumping stops, the heart is unable to transfer blood to the brain, lungs, or other organs. Then the person becomes unconscious and has no pulse after a few seconds. If the victim is not treated, death will occur within minutes.

Other conditions that might lead to sudden cardiac arrest include-

  1. Cardiomyopathy (enraged heart)- This occurs mainly when the heart's muscular walls stretch and thicken that makes the heart muscle abnormal, giving rise to a condition arrhythmia.
  2. Valvular heart disease- The leakage or narrowing of the heart valves can cause the heart muscle to lengthen. When the chambers enlarge or weaken due to stress caused by a tight or leaking valve, the risk of developing arrhythmia increases.
  3. Heart defect from birth (congenital coronary heart disease): When an unexpected cardiac arrest takes place in youngsters or adolescents, it might be because of congenital coronary heart disease. Adults who've had corrective surgeries might still be prone to cardiac arrest.


  • Unexpected collapse
  • No heart rhythm or pulse
  • No breathing
  • Loss of consciousness


Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is provided on time and a ‘defibrillator’ is used to shock the heart and return a regular heart rhythm within the initial minutes.

Please do not wait and watch to see if the symptoms fade, it will only make things worse, provide first aid immediately.

Bottom line

These two distinct heart conditions are linked. Sudden cardiac arrest can occur after a heart attack or during recovery. Most heart attacks do not cause sudden cardiac arrest but are still a common cause of the same. Other heart conditions can also cause heart rhythm disturbances and lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

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