“You nearly caused me to suffer sudden cardiac arrest!” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “You nearly gave me a heart attack!” does it?
We realize we’re not going to remove that particular misleading nugget from our lexicon, but we can point out the differences — and connections — between SCA, heart attacks, and heart disease.
Heart attacks (which are often caused by heart disease) and sudden cardiac arrest are extremely serious medical events requiring immediate medical attention. However, many people don’t fully understand the differences between these common killers.
What’s a Heart Attack?
A heart attack is a circulatory problem that occurs when blood flow to the heart is severely reduced or blocked.
Serious as a heart attack, in fact.
During a heart attack, the heart may continue to beat normally but if the blockage is not quickly resolved, parts of the heart muscle begin to die due to lack of oxygen. The longer a heart attack goes on without treatment, the greater the damage to the muscle.
Heart attacks occur more often in individuals with a history of heart disease.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Symptoms can occur hours, days, and even weeks before the heart attack itself. According to the American Heart Association, the most common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest
- Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
- Jaw, neck, or back pain
- Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
- Shortness of breath
Women may also experience the following warning signs:
- Pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting
- Flu-like symptoms
- Unusual fatigue
What’s Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Cardiac arrest is an electrical problem caused when an individual’s heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, preventing blood and oxygen from flowing to vital organs.
When the heart stops beating, death can occur within minutes.
SCA is always as serious as a heart attack!
Without CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing to vital organs and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock the heart back into a healthy rhythm, SCA is always fatal.
Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest
A heart attack often telegraphs its arrival with clearly defined symptoms; however, SCA occurs with little or no warning. Symptoms are immediate and critical:
- Sudden loss of consciousness/responsiveness
- Absence of breathing
- No pulse.
Here’s a connection between heart disease and SCA that you should know about: People who have suffered a heart attack are at an increased risk of experiencing SCA.
The good news is that cardiac arrest can be reversible if treated in the first few minutes with CPR and by using an AED on the victim.
What You Can Do to Assist Someone Who is Experiencing a Heart Attack or Cardiac Arrest
Call 911 immediately. The operator may be able to help you administer compression-only CPR to the victim. If possible, ask a bystander to locate an AED and use the device immediately.
You never know when your actions could help save a life.
To learn more about our CPR and AED courses or schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the aed.com website and blog are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.