A lot of people will think that heart attack and cardiac arrests are the same things, but in actuality, they are both different and carry their own set of symptoms, causes and risk factors. Dr. Abdullah Shehab, chairman of the Emirates Cardiac Society, claims that Emirati people residing in the UAE dies and an average of 20 years earlier than the rest of the world.

With heart health being a major issue in the middle east, understanding the difference is important to know whether you are at risk of either one and what you can do to steer clear of either one is occurring in your health. 

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A heart attack will happen as a result of coronary heart disease. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart constricts or stops, causing a section of the heart muscle to die. Your heart is just like every other muscle in your body and requires consistent oxygen-rich blood supply.

The coronary arteries provide the blood flow to the heart. A heart attack will occur when there is a blockage in the coronary arteries and is often caused by a blood clot. If the blockage isn’t quickly resolved, a part of the heart will begin to die off, and fatality is likely to occur.

A cardiac arrest is when the whole heart completely stops beating. Some many different symptoms and causes can lead to either one. With that being said, let’s break down what each heart condition entails and what are its main differences. 

Heart Attack Symptoms

Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest (1)
  • Chest pain: Feeling of tightness or pressure in the centre of the chest and does not decrease in pain after several minutes
  • The spread of pain from the chest to other areas such as the neck, shoulders, jaw, back, and abdomen
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Snoring
  • Anxiety
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Weakness
  • Palpitations

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest
  • A sudden loss of consciousness
  • No pulse
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness leading to collapse

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s important to get attention immediately and call for help. Without early and fast intervention, there may be fatal outcomes. Being extra precautious and being extremely responsive to heart attacks and cardiac arrest is essential, especially for people who have existing heart conditions.

The Causes

Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

1. Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrests can often be the result of heart attacks. When a heart attack occurs, cardiac arrest may sometimes follow when left untreated. Other causes of cardiac arrest include:

  • Ventricular fibrillation: an abnormal heart rhythm where the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) have an irregular beat. 
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Hypothermia
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Pacemaker failure
  • Choking
  • Drowning
  • A sudden and sharp drop in blood pressure
  • Drug abuse

2. Heart Attacks

Heart attacks oftentimes have one main cause factor – coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is the only condition that is generally caused by fatty deposits building up the in the coronary arteries and cuts off the oxygenated blood from flowing to the heart. People with a higher risk of heart attacks are

  • Smokers
  • Unhealthy diets and have a high intake of saturated fat
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease and heart conditions
  • People exposed to high levels of air pollution
  • People who have previously suffered a heart attack

How to Avoid Heart Attacks and Cardiac Arrest

Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Preventing both heart attacks and cardiac arrest can be taken with a similar approach as both complications can be prevented by a healthier lifestyle and better overall heart health. Here are a few actions you can take in your life to prevent the likeliness of heart attack or cardiac arrest from occurring. 

  • Reduce the workload of the heart by not straining yourself mentally and physically
  • Lower your blood pressure and keep cholesterol levels balanced
  • Lose and aim to maintain a healthy weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Quit smoking. Smokeless to prevent heart diseases or other complications but quit altogether for best effect.
  • Reduce emotional stress
  • Eat heart-healthy foods, high in minerals, vitamins, fibres, proteins, and healthy fats
  • Make a habit of exercise to improve cardiovascular health

When to See a Doctor?

Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

It’s crucial to see a doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms or at high risk with the above causes. Having regular checkups is important if you have an existing health condition.

Although avoiding heart-related complications through a precautious and healthy lifestyle is important, speaking with your doctor regularly is still highly encouraged and essential in ensuring your health. 

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.