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Heart attack vs cardiac arrest

Heart attack vs cardiac arrest
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We often hear that somebody died due to the heart attack or a cardiac arrest.In fact, these two terms are used interchangeably, even by doctors and we assume that both are similar conditions.On the contrary, these two conditions are distinctively different from each other in terms of distinct risk factors, treatment options, and outcomes.

We often hear that somebody died due to the heart attack or a cardiac arrest.

In fact, these two terms are used interchangeably, even by doctors and we assume that both are similar conditions.

On the contrary, these two conditions are distinctively different from each other in terms of distinct risk factors, treatment options, and outcomes.

Difference between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest
The heart is a muscle, and like all muscles, it requires an oxygen-rich blood supply. This is provided to the heart by coronary arteries.

A heart attack occurs when there is a blockage of the coronary arteries.

This is often caused by a blood clot. Such a blockage, if not quickly resolved, can cause parts of the heart muscle to begin to die.

A cardiac arrest is different to a heart attack. In a cardiac arrest, the heart actually stops beating; whereas in a heart attack the heart normally continues to beat even though the blood supply to the heart is disrupted.

Symptoms
In Cardiac arrest the heart stops beating. People stop breathing and the pulse of the patient is not found whereas heart attack symptoms include chest pain, shortening of breath, coughing, wheezing, dizziness, sweating, weakness, anxiety, palpitation etc.

The early signs of cardiac arrest also include chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, and palpitation etc.

People who are at higher risk
Smokers, diabetic, obese, people with high blood pressure, people with a sedentary lifestyle, people with family history of heart disease are highly vulnerable to the heart attack, people living in high pollution area are more prone to heart attack.

People with abnormal heart rhythm where the lower chamber of heart beat irregularly are highly vulnerable to the cardiac arrest.

Pacemaker failure, Respiratory arrest, Choking, Drowning, Electrocution, Hypothermia, Dramatic drop in blood pressure, Drug abuse, Excessive alcohol consumption are other reasons behind the cardiac arrest.

Treatment
The treatment for a cardiac arrest is to begin immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to support the victim's circulation, and, as soon as possible, to deliver a large electrical shock to the heart with a device called a "defibrillator."

The large shock allows the heart's electrical signal to reorganize itself, and the heart starts beating again.

The treatment of heart attack is done to restore blood flow through the blood vessels supplying to the heart.

The two main treatments are clot-busting medicines and percutaneous coronary intervention, also known as coronary angioplasty, a procedure used to open blocked coronary arteries.

- The writer is a Consultant
Interventional Cardiologist,
Fortis Hospital

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