What’s the Difference between a Heart Attack, a Cardiac Arrest, and a Myocardial Infarction?
Inputs by Dr. Sanjeekumar Kalkekar, Consultant, Cardiology, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.
People often use these terms interchangeably, but there are vital differences. A heart attack is caused when the blood flow to the heart is blocked, and a cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating abruptly.
While Myocardial Infarctionis just another term for heart attacks, cardiac arrestsare very different from them. A heart attack or Myocardial Infarction occurs when a coronary artery, one of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle, gets blocked suddenly. The sudden blockage starves a portion of the heart muscle of its vital blood supply, and the muscle dies. So simply put a heart attack is the death of a part of the heart muscle.
Common heart attack symptoms include:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or pain in the chest
- Pain or other uncomfortable sensations in the arm, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Sudden nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
Cardiac arrest is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions, causing it to beat rapidly and uncontrollably — or to stop beating in general. Without blood circulating to the brain, lungs, and other organs, the person gasps or stops breathing and becomes unresponsive within seconds.
Sudden cardiac arrest signs and symptoms are immediate and severe. These include:
- Sudden collapse
- No pulse
- No breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Difference between a Heart Attack and a Cardiac Attack
Cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack as the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked. However, a heart attack can sometimes trigger an electrical disturbance that leads to sudden cardiac arrest. Other possible causes of cardiac arrest include heart failure, a clot in the lungs, and serious discrepancy of minerals in the blood, a drug overdose, or a blow to the chest.