A Heart Attack or a Sudden Cardiac Arrest; What is the Difference?

Heart conditions and complications often have similar symptoms. This is why many people often think that a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is similar to a heart attack. However, both the conditions are very different from each other. Their risk factors, causes, and treatment options are distinct as well.

To state the difference in the simplest way, a heart attack is the condition when oxygen supply to the heart is stopped while a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the unexpected irregularity in the heart beat of a person.

In a heart attack, it is a blocked artery which usually hinders the supply of oxygen to the heart. This oxygen, which is carried through the blood, is not allowed to reach a particular section of the heart under such a condition. Due to this blockage, the area where the blood does not reach in the heart starts to die and can completely whither if medical help is not provided in time. The longer it takes to give medical assistance, the more damage is caused to that part of the heart, which is otherwise, nourished by the blocked artery. This can go on for hours, days and even weeks before the heart attack actually occurs.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest occurs within minutes and does not last more than 10-15 minutes during which if immediate assistance is not provided, the victim could die. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart. This malfunction causes the heart to beat irregularly, a condition which is known as Arrhythmia. Due to this disruption in the normal pattern of pumping blood, the heart is unable to supply blood to the brain and other body parts. This puts the person suffering from Sudden Cardiac Arrest in a very crucial and life-threatening situation.

In case of a heart attack, you can call 911 but it is way better to call Emergency Medical Assistance (EMS) as they arrive way earlier and can start giving immediate help on the spot. This will save time and increase the chances of survival of the person.

Giving immediate care and providing intervention without delay is far more crucial in case of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest as with every minute’s delay, the person’s survival chances decrease by 7-10%. A victim of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest can be given immediate help through an Automated Electric Defibrillator. It is a device that is used to give another chance to the heart to revive itself through a shock. The heart stops beating for a moment, just enough time for it to kick in a reflex and make it beat regularly again.

An AED is very important when it comes to saving lives of people who suffer a SCA. Waiting for EMS to arrive or taking them to the hospital would take too long for them to stand a chance to survive this condition.