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Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest: Whats the Difference?

Let’s play a game: heart attack or cardiac arrest – do you know the difference? Many people mix them up, but they’re not the same thing. And knowing how they differ could one day help you save a life.
Let’s break this down and clear up the confusion.

Picture your heart as a bustling house. A heart attack is akin to a pipe blockage that stops water (in this case, blood) from reaching some rooms (parts of your heart). It usually occurs when a blood clot jams up your blood vessels, like a clog in a pipe. When this happens, people typically experience chest discomfort, breathlessness, and nausea. They’re generally awake and breathing. If someone’s having a heart attack, it’s ambulance time – medical professionals can fix the blockage and get everything flowing smoothly again.

On the other hand, a cardiac arrest is more like a power outage in your house. The heart’s electric system goes haywire, causing it to stop pumping blood to the body. The person will collapse, won’t respond, and won’t breathe normally. This is an urgent situation that needs immediate action. In this case, start CPR (chest compressions and rescue breaths) and use a defibrillator (also known as an AED) if there’s one nearby. Think of a defibrillator as a power generator—it can help jump-start the heart and get it beating again.

Here’s the tricky part: a heart attack can sometimes trigger a cardiac arrest. That’s why fast action during a heart attack is crucial, to prevent it from escalating into a cardiac arrest.

Knowledge is power, and in this case, it can be the power to save a life. If you’re confronted with a heart attack, call an ambulance. If you’re dealing with a cardiac arrest, CPR and an AED are the lifesavers.

But let’s face it, in a cardiac emergency, a defibrillator can be the real game-changer. It can restart a heart and turn a potentially tragic event into a story of survival. That’s why having access to a defibrillator, whether at your workplace, home, or community spaces, is so important.

But with so many defibrillators out there, how do you choose the right one? We’ve got you covered. Check out our defibrillator selector tool, designed to help you find the perfect defibrillator that suits your needs. Remember, when it comes to heart health, we all have a part to play. So let’s stay informed, be prepared, and together, we can save lives.