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The Connection Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Heart disease is a global health crisis, claiming the top spot as the leading cause of death worldwide. In Singapore, it ranks as the third most formidable adversary on the mortality charts. Amidst the health concerns, two terms often get tossed around interchangeably: "heart attack" and "sudden cardiac arrest." While they often cross paths in conversations, it's time to lift the curtain and reveal their distinctive roles in the cardiovascular saga.

To understand these crucial differences, let's delve into the world of cardiac health.

Picture it: the heart, an intricately designed organ, orchestrating the symphony of life within your chest. But when things go awry, the drama unfolds.

A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery hinders the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a part of the heart. Without a swift resolution, the affected heart tissue faces impending doom. Time is of the essence; the longer it elapses without intervention, the more catastrophic the outcome.

Sudden cardiac arrest, on the other hand, strikes suddenly and often without warning. This happens because of an electrical malfunction in the heart that sets off a chaotic rhythm known as an arrhythmia. As the heart loses its rhythmic flow, it can no longer deliver blood effectively to the brain and lungs. Consequently, the affected person loses consciousness and their pulse disappears. Without prompt intervention, the inevitable can occur within minutes.

Connecting the Dots: Where Their Paths Cross

While heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrests have distinct roles, their paths often intersect. Sudden cardiac arrest can emerge as a sequel to a heart attack or during its aftermath.

Heart attacks raise the stakes, increasing the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Not all heart attacks evolve into sudden cardiac arrest, (You can avoid this if the casualty has their heart disease medication labeled with their name! Do check for the right medication meant for managing heart attack symptoms!) but when the latter does strike, it's frequently a direct result of the former.

Many people think that cardiac arrests occur only in the elderly with heart conditions. However, that is not true. There have been many cases of generally healthy teenagers and adults below the age of 40 who suffered from cardiac arrests.

You might then be wondering, what else can trigger this sudden cardiac arrest? While the most common instigator is heart disease, it can also be caused by electrocution, drowning, choking, and trauma.

It’s About Empowerment, and It Starts With Us

Understanding the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest is not just a matter of semantics; it's a matter of survival. While healthcare professionals are trained to respond to these situations, public awareness and basic life support skills are equally vital.

We can all have a role in saving lives. Learning CPR, being able to recognise the signs of a heart attack, and understanding how to use the AEDs can make a substantial impact when it truly counts. It's a joint effort to combat the global crisis of heart disease and reduce the impact of these cardiac emergencies.

Ultimately, the responsibility falls on all of us to take action. Through the power of knowledge and preparedness, each of us can contribute to a world where heart disease is no longer the leading cause of death.

Here are some of our most popular First Aid courses:

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