The difference between a cardiac arrest and heart attack can be confusing to many people, including some healthcare providers. These healthcare providers include nursing home personnel and other providers who are unaccustomed to patient’s in cardiac arrest on a regular basis. Therefore, it is important to know the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack, because the treatment modality is dissimilar.
When a person has a heart attack, he or she is experiencing trouble with their heart while they have a pulse and/or awake. The heartbeat is interrupted because of a lack of blood flow, due to a clot or spasm to the artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. The heart is still beating because the clot could be incomplete, and some blood is flowing to the heart muscle. The clot could also be complete, thus completely blocking the flow of blood. The heart responds by alerting the victim with pain signals. The pain signals include but are not limited to, chest pain, shortness of breath, shoulder pain, jaw pain, a toothache, anterior neck pain, upper or mid back pain, and epigastric discomfort with nausea and/or vomiting. Sometimes the only signal is shortness of breath or no symptoms at all. When there is no signal at all, the victim may enter cardiac arrest because he or she is unaware of the critical needs of the heart.
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating and is suffering a lethal rhythm that removes the pulse. Without a pulse, perfusion to vital organs is absent and insufficient. If the heart stops, nature has allowed the human body six (6) minutes to get it started again, before irreversible brain damage occurs. One way of trying to get the heart started again and allow perfusion is to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). CPR is a basic skill that most healthy people can do. Consequently, without CPR which permits artificial circulation (perfusion), the victim will not recover.
There is various reasons a victim will have a heart attack. The common reason is that of plague (atherosclerosis) inside the arteries that surround the heart that lead to the bottom portion, and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). These conditions can cause a decrease or complete stoppage of blood flow to the heart. Hence, getting a checkup every year, or for some, every six months is vital.
When symptoms of a heart attack occur, the most important action to take is to sit down and dial or have someone else dial 911. Often, people find that a heart attack is embarrassing and will not mention the discomfort to anyone. Even more, some people may disregard the symptoms and blame it on gastritis or muscle ache that he or she hopes will go away. By ignoring the symptoms, the body reacts by placing the heart in cardiac arrest.
Once the dispatcher is on the phone with the person calling 911, he or she will try to calm you down and set you in the direction of immediate need actions. Those actions may include offering baby aspirin which is 81 milligrams if the victim is without bleeding ulcers. Another request is to obtain the AED and keep the phone on speaker mode while helping a victim or yourself. These previously mentioned methods are given to keep the heart from acting up or to open the arteries feeding the heart. The heart is a muscle that works (nonstop) every second of a person’s life. Without that muscle, the victim will not survive. But, what are some factors that cause the heart muscle to act up?
As human beings with families, hereditary issues arise but we still need to do certain techniques to keep our blood flowing and our brain oxygenated. Unfortunately, the world around us permeates with toxins that ooze through our body’s first defense system which is the skin. Moreover, we must breathe, and the air around us steeps with molecules of smog and other toxins that will damage our lungs, heart and other organs. One suggestion is to live in the mountains or near the ocean and away from a city and its surrounding industry.
Even though we exercise, by jogging or lifting weights around a densely populated industrial area, we rapidly inhale bad air. However, we cannot stop exercising because it is detrimental to our survival. Fresh air, clean water, and the non-processed food is the key to our survival. On the other hand, hereditary issues are sometimes unavoidable, and the heart attack and cardiac arrest will still occur. However, it doesn’t mean that our lives must end. What it means is that we must be prepared and have the right equipment and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) close by when the need arises.
The heart attack is bad, but the cardiac arrest is worst. Take the time to learn the proper procedure to help yourself and others. There is no other option but to be responsible. And don’t think that a heart attack or cardiac arrest will not happen to you. Regardless of how healthy you are, being prepared is a must. To think it won’t happen is poor rational. Love is why.