Cardiac Arrest

Is cardiac arrest the same as heart attack?

Cardiac arrest occurs when a person suddenly loses heart function, breathing and consciousness. While many confuse this with a heart attack, these terms have quite different meanings. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to your heart is cut off and the heart muscle is damaged and begins to die. Cardiac arrest occurs when your heart stops beating altogether. A heart attack can sometimes trigger an electrical disturbance that leads to cardiac arrest, and without quick treatment cardiac arrest leads to death.

Cardiac arrest can occur with or without a previous diagnosis of heart disease.

The symptoms of cardiac arrest are sudden and severe, and in many cases, with no initial warning signs. They include collapsing, loss of consciousness, no pulse and no breathing. Before cardiac arrest occurs, you may feel excessively tired, dizzy or faint; you may experience shortness of breath, palpitations or chest pain. With quick action, cardiac arrest may be reversed by cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use of a defibrillator; otherwise, permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes.

Symptoms may include:
• Sudden collapse
• No pulse
• No breathing
• Loss of consciousness

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