Is it Cardiac Arrest or a Heart Attack?

Is it Cardiac Arrest or a Heart Attack?


What is a Heart Attack?

Often confused with cardiac arrest, a heart attack is primarily a “plumbing” issue within the heart. It occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is severely reduced or blocked, typically due to a clogged artery. Symptoms can appear days, weeks, or minutes before an event and might include chest pain, shortness of breath, or other warning signs. During a heart attack, the heart usually continues to beat, and the person may remain conscious.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

Contrasting sharply with a heart attack, cardiac arrest is an “electrical” issue where the heart’s electrical activity becomes chaotic, causing it to stop pumping blood effectively—this is known as ventricular fibrillation. Cardiac arrest leads to the sudden collapse of the patient, who will not be breathing and requires immediate intervention. This condition is lethal within minutes if not promptly and properly addressed.

The Importance of Immediate Response

The Critical Seconds

In events of cardiac arrest, every second counts. The survival chances decrease by 10% with each minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation. Beyond 10 minutes without oxygen, brain damage or death becomes highly likely.

Role of CPR

CPR is crucial as it helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain until normal heart function can be restored. It involves rhythmic pressing on the chest to mechanically circulate blood to organs, buying precious time until more advanced care (like defibrillation) becomes available.

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs): A Lifeline

How Does an AED Work?

AEDs are designed to be user-friendly, portable devices that analyze the heart’s rhythm and determine if a shock is necessary. Approximately 50% of SCA cases are in a shockable rhythm when an AED is first applied. These devices will only administer a shock if it’s necessary; otherwise, instruct the rescuer to continue CPR.

The Need for an Electrical Shock

When an AED determines that a shock is required, it delivers an electric pulse through the chest. The pulse stops the heart’s erratic quiver and allows the heart’s natural pacemaker to reestablish a normal rhythm. It’s not uncommon for a patient to need multiple shocks.

Empowering the Public Through Education

Understanding the differences between heart attacks and cardiac arrest and correctly using CPR and AEDs can make the difference between life and death. At AED Brands, we are dedicated to empowering individuals with the knowledge and tools to act confidently and effectively in these critical situations. By fostering widespread CPR and AED training, we can improve survival rates and outcomes for those experiencing these severe cardiac events.


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