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Difference Between Heart Attack & Cardiac Arrest: Tips for Optimal Heart Health

By Dr. Preeti Sharma in Cardiac Sciences , Cardiology

Dec 19 , 2023 | 2 min read

Heart-related emergencies can be frightening and life-threatening, but it's crucial to distinguish between two common terms: Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest. We may think they are similar, so we will delve into the differences between the two cardiac events, shed light on how to take better care of your heart health and provide practical tips to ensure optimal cardiovascular well-being.

Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest

Heart Attack

  • A myocardial infarction, or a heart attack, occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart muscle is blocked. 
  • This blockage could result from a blood clot that may form in a coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart. 
  • The affected part of the heart may become damaged or die if blood flow is not restored promptly. 
  • Symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, pain radiating to the back, arms, jaw, neck or stomach and shortness of breath.

Cardiac Arrest

  • Cardiac arrest refers to a sudden, unexpected loss of heart function.
  •  It occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions, causing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). This irregular rhythm can cause the heart to stop pumping blood to the body and brain. 
  • Unlike a heart attack, cardiac arrest often occurs without warning, and the person may lose consciousness immediately. 
  • Immediate CPR and defibrillation are crucial to restart the heart and improve the rate of survival.

Taking Better Care of Heart Health

  • Engage in physical activity regularly to strengthen the heart and improve circulation. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises like brisk walking, jogging, or cycling every week can be beneficial.
  • Adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limiting the consumption of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars can be helpful.
  • Promoting a healthy weight not only eases the burden on your heart but also significantly diminishes the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases. Consult a doctor for personalized guidance.
  • Chronic stress contributes to heart problems. Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or hobbies that bring you joy.
  • Scheduling regular check-ups with your healthcare provider helps to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall heart health. Detecting early and managing the risk factors are necessary for prevention.

Tips for Optimal Heart Health

  • Smoking substantially heightens the risk of developing heart disease, underscoring the critical importance of abstaining from this harmful habit for cardiovascular well-being. Quitting smoking improves heart health and overall well-being.
  • If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation. Uncontrolled alcohol consumption contributes to high blood pressure and, consequently, heart problems.
  • Ensure optimal heart health by consistently hydrating your body with ample water. Dehydration can strain the heart and affect its ability to pump blood effectively.
  • Prioritize quality sleep to allow your heart and body to rest and rejuvenate. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Understanding the distinctions between a heart attack and cardiac arrest is crucial for recognizing symptoms and taking appropriate action. However, prevention is the cornerstone of heart health. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, managing risk factors, and incorporating these tips in your daily routine can significantly reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events and promote optimal heart health. Remember, your heart is a precious organ that deserves your care and attention.