Cardiac Arrest VS. Heart Attack

Knowing how to perform CPR is critical to helping save someone’s life. Taking a Red Cross Training Course with hand2heart CPR will ensure you have the skills required to perform the lifesaving actions for those crucial moments before EMS arrives on the scene. Four to six minutes without oxygen to the brain and vital organs, the brain cells start to die. After 10 minutes without oxygen to the brain and vital organs, you are pretty much declared clinically dead.

There is always a bit of confusion in our First Aid CPR training courses when discussing cardiac arrest vs. heart attack. Let me take some time to clear up that confusion.

WHAT IS CARDIAC ARREST?

CARDIAC ARREST occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly.

Cardiac arrest is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs.

WHAT HAPPENS?

Seconds later, a person becomes unresponsive, is not breathing  or is only gasping. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.

WHAT TO DO:

Cardiac arrest can be reversible in some victims if it’s treated within a few minutes.

CALL 911: First, call 911 and start CPR right away.

AED: Then, if an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is available, use it as soon as possible.

*Taking a Red Cross First Aid CPR AED class with Hand2Heart CPR will provide you with all the skills

required to operate the AED successfully!

If two people are available to help, one should begin CPR immediately while the other calls 911 and finds an AED.

CARDIAC ARREST IS A LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH. Take a CPR Course today with Hand2Heart CPR

RISK FACTORS:

*Prior heart disease is a major risk factor for cardiac arrest.

*A family history of cardiac arrest in a first-degree relative is associated with an approximate 2-fold increase in risk of cardiac arrest.

 

WHAT IS A HEART ATTACK?

A HEART ATTACK occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked.

A blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die.

WHAT HAPPENS?

Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and may include intense discomfort in the chest or other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and/or nausea and vomiting. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike with cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during the attack. The longer the person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.

 

*Women have the same symptoms as men, but they might have slightly different symptoms, making them not think of a heart attack. Women may have shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and they can have back, neck or jaw pain.

WHAT TO DO?

CALL 911: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 911. Every minute matters! It’s best to call EMS to get to the Emergency Room right way. EMS staff can begin treatment when they arrive-up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital too.

As a bystander, you won’t necessarily know the difference between Cardiac Arrest and Heart Attack. It’s always best to call 911 immediately, and begin doing CPR right away. 30 compressions followed by 2 breaths. Place the heel of your hand in the centre of the chest (between the nipples), and push hard and fast. If you do not have a proper breathing barrier, then compression only CPR  is acceptable on an adult who has suddenly collapsed. If performing CPR on an infant or child, then rescue breaths should be administered as their emergencies are usually respiratory in nature (choking, drowning, severe asthma, anaphylaxis).

WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN THE TWO?

Most heart attacks do not lead to cardiac arrest. But when cardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause. Other conditions may also disrupt the heart’s rhythm and lead to cardiac arrest.

REMEMBER: Fast action saves lives! Taking a CPR training course with Hand2Heart CPR will put you in the front lines when coming to the aid of a person in distress.

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