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Know The Difference Between Cardiac Arrest And Heart Attack To Save Someone’s Life

Updated on 28 February, 2018 at 3:23 pm By

The nation is mourning the death of veteran actress Sridevi who died of ‘cardiac arrest.’ Last year, another veteran actor, Om Puri, passed away due to ‘heart attack.’ Searching through the news, we noticed many publications reported the cause of Sridevi’s death as ‘heart attack.’ Though both are related to heart, these conditions are not interchangeable terms. There are significant differences in the occurrence of ‘heart attack’ and ‘cardiac arrest.’

What is a heart attack?


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The blood carrying oxygen is supplied to heart by coronary artery. In case of blockage of those arteries for more than 20 to 30 minutes, the heart will stop receiving enough oxygen. The part of the heart that is not receiving enough oxygen will die. As opposed to the common dramatic image of a person clutching his chest, it can persist for hours  with a slow appearance of the symptoms. However, at times it can be intense and immediate.

Mount Elizabeth Hospital

Chest pain and heaviness are common symptoms of heart attack. Here are some of the other ones.

  • Discomfort
  • Burning sensation in chest
  • Tightness in arm, jaw, back, or neck
  • Cold sweat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pain between shoulder blades

What is a cardiac arrest?



Cardiac arrest is much more sudden than a heart attack. It occurs due to an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes arrhythmia. This is a condition of irregular heartbeats. In cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating effectively. It means an insufficient quantity of blood supply to heart and brain. This diminishes the body’s capability to sustain life.

Sadly, due to the sudden occurrence, there are no usual symptoms of cardiac arrest. However, when someone is having a cardiac arrest, they won’t be:

  • Responsive
  • Conscious
  • Breathing normally

Link between heart attack and cardiac arrest

Though not interchangeable terms, these conditions are certainly linked. Cardiac arrest can occur due to various reasons and one of them is the heart attack. During the heart attack, cardiac arrest may or may not occur. However, during cardiac arrest heart attack is a common cause.


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In both cases, the cause of action is getting medical help as soon as possible. For ambulance, dial 102 from anywhere in India.

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