A heart attack is a common occurrence in the UK and according to the British Heart Foundation:
In the UK there are more than 100,000 hospital admissions each year due to heart attacks: that’s one every five minutes. Around 1.4 million people alive in the UK today have survived a heart attack.
There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year, with a survival rate of less than 1 in 10.British Heart Foundation
Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack – what’s the difference?
A heart attack is not exactly the same as a cardiac arrest although some people get confused between the two terms.
- When blood flow is blocked to the heart it will cause a ‘heart attack‘ – this is considered a problem with ‘circulation‘
- If the heart malfunctions and stops beating without warning, it is a ‘cardiac arrest‘ – which is an ‘electrical‘ problem
If oxygen-rich blood is prevented from reaching a section of the heart via a blocked artery, then a heart attack will occur. That part of the heart will start to die if the artery supplying it is not re-opened without delay. The longer it’s left without treatment, the greater the damage.
The symptons may be immediate and intense. However, they will often start slowly over a period of hours to weeks before the attack occurs. The heart will continue to beat. Men and women can also have different symptons.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
As the name suggests a sudden cardiac arrest occurs immediately often without warning. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart. This in turn creates an irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmia. Due to pumping of the heart being disrupted, blood will not be able to reach the brain, lungs and other organs within the body. Immediately after that a person’s pulse will stop and they will lose consciousness. If treatment is not received immediately the person will die.
These two heart conditions are linked. Heart attacks can increase your risk of sudden cardiac arrest and although most do not lead to cardiac arrest it is often the underlying cause. Any other type of heart condition that disrupts the rhythm of the heart can also lead to sudden cardiac arrest including:
- Thickened heart muscle
- Heart failure
- Arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation and long Q-T syndrome
Even if you’re healthy it’s still possibly to suffer a heart attack. This is more likely to happen if your arteries are not 100% healthy. It’s preventable if the right tests are done in advance.
If you suspect someone has had a cardiac arrest, fast action is imperative. Firstly call 999 and then start CPR. If you don’t know how, then this is where effective CPR training can help you to potentially save a life. In the meantime take a look at our free CPR training videos.