Pumping heart attack vs electrical cardiac arrest

While a heart attack is a plumbing problem, a cardiac arrest is an electrical problem. Cardiac arrest happens when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions, causing it to beat rapidly and chaoticall...

Pumping Heart Attack vs Electrical Cardiac Arrest

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

Vice President CMAAO

President HCFI

The most common confusion is the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest. A heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) is defined as damage to part of the heart muscle caused by inadequate blood flow to that area. Most of the time, this happens due to a blockage in one of the heart’s arteries. Known as a type 1 heart attack, such blockages typically occur when cholesterol-laden plaque lining an artery ruptures. A clot forms, obstructing the vessel.

While a heart attack is a plumbing problem, a cardiac arrest is an electrical problem. Cardiac arrest happens when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions, causing it to beat rapidly and chaotically — or to stop beating altogether. Without blood circulating to the brain, lungs, and other organs, the person gasps or stops breathing and becomes unresponsive within seconds.

Heart attack : common cause of cardiac arrest

A heart attack is a common cause of cardiac arrest, but most heart attacks do not lead to cardiac arrest. Other possible causes of cardiac arrest include heart failure, a clot in the lungs, a serious imbalance of potassium, magnesium, or other minerals in the blood, a drug overdose, or a blow to the chest.

The term “widow maker” refers to a heart attack caused by a blockage near the top of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery, the main artery that supplies blood to the front of the heart. However, heart attacks that involve the LAD are not necessarily fatal, and those involving other arteries can be deadly, too.

Common heart attack symptoms include:

Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or pain in the chest

Pain or other uncomfortable sensations in an arm, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach

Shortness of breath

Sudden nausea or vomiting

Lightheadedness or dizziness

Unusual fatigue.

Signs of cardiac arrest

Signs of cardiac arrest are a sudden loss of responsiveness and abnormal breathing (either not breathing or only gasping). Give hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until help arrives.

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