Heart attack and cardiac arrest— often used interchangeably but they are not the same. Most times, you might not even know what’s actually going on in your body during these events. They, irrespective, are two serious conditions involving the heart and require immediate medical attention.
To throw more light to this health issue, we spoke to Kingwood Emergency Hospital’s Dr. Kim Waaso who explained the difference between these conditions, including the signs and risk factors you should know about.
According to Dr. Waaso, “A heart attack is when lack of oxygen to the heart leads to the death of heart muscle tissue. The longer you wait to get medical treatment, the more severe the damage, even resulting in death. Kingwood Emergency Hospital is staffed with Board Certified ER Physicians and we are fully equipped to deal with any heart-related issue.”
A heart attack is totally different than cardiac arrest!
A happens when one of the main arteries of the heart gets blocked, causing the heart to not get enough blood flow. Cardiac arrest, on the other hand, happens when the heart stops completely. Cardiac arrests can sometimes be caused by heart attacks, but they can also be a function of stress, trauma, a pulmonary embolism, and infections.
In other words, we can also say both conditions can be serious, a heart attack can also be mild. However, a cardiac arrest is very serious and will lead to death without resuscitation.
The symptoms and treatment of a heart attack and cardiac arrest are different, too.
People who are suffering from a heart attack will typically have symptoms like chest pain or tightness that happens when they’re resting or exerting themselves. Since heart attacks deal with a blockage, they can be treated with medications.
With cardiac arrest, people often just pass out. They may feel dizzy or light-headed and suddenly blackout. Immediate treatment with a cardiac arrest is CPR and a shock with a defibrillator to jump-start a person’s heart.
While strokes also deal with blood flow, they’re not based in the heart.
There are two major types of strokes: Ischemic and Hemorrhagic. Ischemic is where a blood clot cuts off the supply of blood to an area of the brain. Wherein hemorrhagic strokes are a little different: They happen when you have bleeding in the brain via a ruptured blood vessel.
Symptoms of a stroke typically include a sudden, severe headache, sudden numbness or weakness; paralysis (of the face, arm, or legs), confusion or difficulty with speech, difficulty understanding people, loss of balance, and sudden vision change.
Treatment varies depending on the type of stroke someone had. If it’s an ischemic stroke, doctors will need to get the blood clot but surgery can be performed, too.
While these are all different conditions, they share many of the same risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. So talk to your doctor about prevention if you have one or more risk factors—especially if you have a history of these events in your family.
If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of any of these conditions, get to the emergency room right away. A fast response is crucial to saving lives.
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