How can I tell the difference between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest?

Both heart attack and cardiac arrest are serious heart conditions that require immediate medical care.  However, they are distinctly different conditions, with unique symptoms and methods of intervention.

Heart Attack:

A heart attack is a result of one or more blocked arteries, limiting blood flow to the heart muscle.  The heart can continue to beat, but less effectively.

                                   Indications of a Heart Attack

        • Intense chest pain
        • Sensation of crushing pressure on the chest
        • Shortness of breath
        • Sweating
        • Symptoms may occur immediately or may build over minutes to hours

                                  Bystander Response to Heart Attack

        • Call 9-1-1
        • Administer Nitroglycerin, if patient has a prescription
        • Keep the victim calm
        • CPR is only needed if victim goes into cardiac arrest

Cardiac Arrest:

In contrast, cardiac arrest is an electrical problem in the heart that causes it to stop beating altogether.

                                   Indications of Cardiac Arrest

        • Victim is unresponsive
        • No breathing or gasps only
        • Symptoms occur immediately

                                  Bystander Response to Cardiac Arrest

        • Call 9-1-1
        • Begin CPR
        • Utilize an AED, if available
        • Continue CPR until emergency personnel arrive