September 19, 2018

By Kundai Zengeya

You’ll often hear the terms heart attack and cardiac arrest used interchangeably, but in reality they aren’t the same thing.. These two distinct heart conditions are linked though the causes and symptoms differ.

Cardiac Arrest
Cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and often without warning . It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.
Sudden cardiac arrest can occur after a heart attack, or during recovery. Other heart conditions such as a thickened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), heart failure, arrhythmias, particularly ventricular fibrillation, and long Q-T syndrome may also disrupt the heart’s rhythm and lead to sudden cardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest is reversible in most victims if it’s treated within a few minutes. First, call for emergency medical services. Then get an automated external defibrillator (AED), if one is available and use it as soon as it arrives. Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately and continue until professional emergency medical services arrive. If two people are available to help, one should begin CPR immediately while the other calls for emergency medical services and finds an AED.

Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die. The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.
Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and intense. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike with sudden cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack. Also heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men.Heart attacks increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Most heart attacks do not lead to sudden cardiac arrest. But when sudden cardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause.
If you or someone you’re with has chest discomfort or other heart attack symptoms, call emergency medical services right away. While your first impulse may be to drive yourself or the heart attack victim to the hospital, it’s better to get an ambulance. Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel can start treatment on the way to the hospital. They’re also trained to revive a person if their heart stops.
If you can’t reach EMS, drive the person to the hospital. If you’re the one with the symptoms, don’t drive yourself to the hospital unless you have no other choice.Many people delay treatment because they doubt they are having a heart attack. They don’t want to bother or worry their friends and family.

Heart Failure
Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. There are four types of heart failure namely left-sided heart failure, right-sided heart failure, cystolic heart failure and diastolic heart failure (also called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction).Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently.
Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but treatments can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and help you live longer. Lifestyle changes — such as exercising, reducing sodium in your diet, managing stress and losing weight — can improve your quality of life. Heart failure can be prevented by controllingconditions that cause heart failure, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.

Fast action can save lives. Follow the right procedures if someone experiences a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

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