Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack Explained

Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack terms are commonly used interchangeably however they refer to completely different things. These disorders are associated with your heart which serves to pump blood in your whole body. When your heart is unable to pump blood in your body because of any reason then it is considered as a cardiac disorder.

These medical conditions require immediate medical attention. These conditions can lead to serious complications and even death of the patient. These conditions can occur due to a number of causes such as poor diet, congenital heart conditions, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and changes in the structure of the heart due long term to infection or disease.

These conditions are more common in people over the age of 50 years but nowadays it can occur in people as young as 30 years old. There are many complications which can occur after an episode of any of these conditions such as stroke. The article given below will clarify the difference between Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack, their symptoms, treatment and preventive measures.

What is the Difference between Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack

Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack are often used synonymously however these conditions are quite different from each other. A Cardiac Arrest is when your heart stops beating suddenly and there is a disruption in the electrical signals of the heart. This produces irregular rhythms of the heart known as arrhythmia which can result in the complete stoppage of the heartbeats.

Heart Failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump sufficient amounts of blood in the body. This condition does not occur suddenly but rather it occurs gradually as the decreased blood supply starts affecting the proper functioning of the organs. Heart Attack is characterised by blocked coronary arteries which reduce the blood supply of the heart muscles leading to the onset of chest pain and sometimes even death of the patient.

All these conditions occur due to different causes but they can lead to the death of the patient if they are not treated promptly. The heart does not stop beating in a heart attack as it does in a cardiac arrest however it may take some time for the patient to recover from the condition.

Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms

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Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac Arrest is a medical emergency in which your heart stops beating suddenly due to a disruption in the electrical signals sent by the heart. This leads to a lack of oxygen and other important nutrients in the cells and tissues. If this condition is not treated on time then it can lead to the death of the patient.

Cardiac Arrest can occur if the patient is suffering from a congenital heart disease such as septal defects, hypertrophy of the heart muscles, addiction to alcohol and other drugs, coronary artery disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, a prior episode of Cardiac Arrest and a family history of Cardiac Arrest.

This condition can occur in anyone in any age group however it is more common in people over the age of 50 years who have been leading a sedentary lifestyle. Cardiac Arrest can be reversed if the patient receives immediate treatment however it can lead to the development of complications in the patient.

Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack Explained

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac Arrest mostly occurs without any initial symptoms. Sudden Cardiac Arrest can present the following symptoms in the patient.

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Racing heartbeat

If you experience any of these symptoms and you have a history of heart problems then you should immediately call for an ambulance or visit your doctor as they could mean the onset of a Cardiac Arrest.

Treatment of Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac Arrest cannot be treated at home and the patient will need to get admitted in the hospital in order to get the proper treatment. Survival rate is high if the treatment of the condition starts within the initial minutes of onset of the Cardiac Arrest. If anyone near you is experiencing the symptoms of a Cardiac Arrest then you should follow the given steps in order to treat them.

  1. Call an ambulance immediately.
  2. Immediately start CPR as it will keep the blood and oxygen in circulation until the ambulance arrives.
  3. If you know how to use an Automated External Defibrillator and if it is available then you should use this along with the CPR. This can save the life of the patient as it will help in the generation of electrical signals in the heart of the patient.

Heart Failure

Heart Failure, also known as Congestive Heart Failure, is a medical condition in which the heart is unable to pump sufficient amounts of blood through the body of the patient. The symptoms of this condition occur gradually as the organs experience long term lack of oxygen and the essential nutrients. Heart Failurecan occur on either side of the heart resulting in left sided and right sided Heart Failure. 

Left sided Heart Failure includes decreased function of the left ventricle. This happens due to the enlargement of the left ventricle hence its contracting ability reduces and it cannot pump blood through the Aorta. Heart Failure can also occur when the left ventricle functions properly. In this condition, the muscles of the left ventricle become thick hence they cannot fill completely. 

Right sided Heart Failure occurs when the right side of the heart does not work properly. This is less common than the left sided Heart Failure.

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Symptoms of Heart Failure

Heart Failure occurs gradually as the organs start showing symptoms of deficiency of oxygen and nutrients. Heart Failure can present the following symptoms in the patients.

  • Feeling of fatigue and malaise
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in lower limbs and abdomen
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Bloated abdomen with loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

Some patients do not experience any symptoms or experience only mild symptoms. This does not mean that your Heart Failure has been cured and the condition only worsens over time and you should start your treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment of Heart Failure

Heart Failure only progresses from one stage to the next and it cannot be reversed. Hence the treatment aims at preventing the progression of the disease. The treatment protocol is the same for both the genders. Medications and lifestyle changes are advised in order to keep the Heart Failure from progressing.

The patients will be advised to exercise regularly and to stop the usage of alcohol and other drugs. They will also be put on medications for any associated conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Your doctor may also prescribe you surgery in order to treat coronary artery blockage, heart attack and valve disease.

Heart Failure cannot be cured completely and the patient will need to continue their medications and treatment for the rest of their lives. Regular exercise and proper diet are the only effective preventive measures of Heart Failure.

Heart Attack

Heart Attack, also known as myocardial infarction, is a medical emergency which is characterised by decreased or blocked blood supply to the heart muscles. This blockage can occur due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol in the arteries. This buildup narrows the area of the arteries which decreases the blood supply and also increases the blood pressure.

These buildups are known as plaques and the process of their formation is known as atherosclerosis. In some cases, these plaques can rupture and form blood clots which can get lodged in small arteries and block the blood supply of the artery.

If the blood supply to the heart does not return to normal then it can lead to severe complications and even death of the patient. The treatment of Heart Attack usually includes medications and lifestyle modifications. A patient who has suffered from a heart attack is at the risk of developing Cardiac Arrest and Heart Failure as well.

Symptoms of Heart Attack

Heart Attack can present many symptoms in the patients which are easily identifiable. Hence the patient should know about the symptoms of Heart Attack and get treatment as soon as they notice any of the symptoms.

  • Chest pain 
  • Chest pain which radiates to the left shoulder, arm and abdomen.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating and lightheadedness

The symptoms of Heart Attack are more prominent in males than in females.

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Treatment of Heart Attack

  • The treatment of Heart Attack aims to restore the blood supply of the heart.
  • The patients are given supplemental oxygen to restore the oxygen supply of the heart muscles.
  • Then they are prescribed medications to clear away any blood clots from the arteries, to treat arrhythmia and painkillers. 
  • Your doctor may also prescribe you surgery if the medications do not work. These can include coronary artery bypass grafting in which the surgeon bypasses the blocked coronary artery.
  • Another surgical option is Percutaneous coronary intervention in which the obstruction to the blood flow is restored surgically. Then the doctor places a stent in the area so that the blockage does not occur again in the same location.
  • After the obstruction has been removed then the patient will be prescribed lifestyle modifications so that the blockage does not occur again in other places.
  • They will need to exercise regularly and take a healthy diet in order to prevent the accumulation of fats and cholesterol in their body.

Preventions of Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack

The prevention of all the diseases such as Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack includes the following steps.

  1. Regular exercise- This is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise maintains your cardiovascular health and also maintains good muscle strength.
  2. Quit tobacco and alcohol- Alcohol and other drugs can lead to deterioration in your heart’s muscles and blood supply. This can put you at the risk of developing cardiac disorders such as Heart attack and heart failure.
  3. Eat a healthy diet- You should eat a healthy diet in order to fulfil all your nutritional requirements. This will prevent unnecessary buildup of harmful substances in your body such as cholesterol.
  4. Maintain a healthy body weight- You should try to maintain a healthy body weight in accordance with your body mass index. Too high or too low body weight can lead to the development of many disorders and diseases including cardiovascular problems.
  5. Manage your existing medical conditions- If you have any existing medical conditions then you should take your medications regularly and follow all the necessary precautions in order to prevent any complications associated with those diseases.
  6. Get regular medical checkups- You should get regular health checkups in order to check the proper functioning of your organs and to check the amount of harmful substances circulating in your blood. This can help in early detection and treatment of several medical conditions.
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FAQs Related to Cardiac Arrest, Heart Failure and Heart Attack

What is the difference between a Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack?

A Cardiac Arrest is when your heart stops beating suddenly and there is a disruption in the electrical signals of the heart. This produces irregular rhythms of the heart known as arrhythmia which can result in the complete stoppage of the heartbeats whereas Heart Attack is characterised by blocked coronary arteries which reduce the blood supply of the heart muscles leading to the onset of severe chest pain and sometimes even death of the patient.

What is the difference between a Heart attack and Heart failure?

Heart Attack, also known as myocardial infarction, is a medical emergency which is characterised by decreased or blocked blood supply to the heart muscles. This blockage can occur due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol in the arteries whereas Heart Failure, also known as Congestive Heart Failure, is a medical condition in which the heart is unable to pump sufficient amounts of blood through the body of the patient. 

Can Heart Failure be cured completely?

No, heart failure cannot be cured completely or reversed. The treatment of Heart Failure focuses on slowing the progression of the disease by the use of various medications.

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