The Difference Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Difference Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest
- A Heart Attack. A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarct, is what happens when a coronary artery suddenly gets blocked, usually by a clot breaking away from damaged artery wall.
Symptoms of Heart Attack. The commonest symptom is pain in the chest typically described as crushing or heavy in nature. It can be felt in the centre of the chest, the axilla the jaw, down the left arm or even in the back. It maybe very severe or so slight as to be barely noticeable.
You must be very careful here. Sometimes the only symptom of a severe heart attack may simple be indigestion or dyspepsia as we call it. If a middle aged man or a woman suddenly develop indigestion out of the blue and for no obvious reason, then think heart attack. I, as a practicing doctor, got caught out here more than once.
Heart attac is often accompanied with nausea, vomiting, restlessness and weakness.
Cardiac Arrest. Cardiac arrest on the other is a sudden stoppage of the heart beating. This usually results in death unless there is a defibrillator close by to shock the heart back into action. There is only a minute or two to usefully do this.
Cause of Cardiac Arrest. In an older person the cause of sudden death from cardiac arrest is the sudden blockage of a coronary artery. People sometimes talk of a "massive" heart attack. This is a misconception of what has happened. It is the area of the heart affected, not the size if the infarction that matters, If the area of the heart affected is within the conducting system then the heart may be thrown into an irregular rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation quickly leads to arrest and death.
The cause of cardiac arrest in younger people, the so called Sudden Adult Death Syndrome SADS is not so clear cut and not well understood. It is commoner among athletic people and people with a family history of sudden death. It is again usually preceded by the the person going into an arrhythmia calle ventricular fibrillation. Beyond that the causes of SADS are speculative and in truth not known.
Around here sports clubs are raising money to buy defibrillators to be used in the event of SADS occuring on the sports field. I think that this is not only a mistake but also dangerous. People may be revived occasionally but will that always be before irreparable brain damage has occured.
I believe that the money now being spent, by well meaning people, in having a defibrillator hanging in every clubhouse and lampost, would be better spent on training people in the rudiments of cardiopulmonary resuscitation CPR It would be equally effective and less dangerous. What do you think?