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Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest

Heart attack and cardiac arrest is something people use interchangeably, however, these are two very different terms. Lets go ahead and learn the differences.

Heart Attack

A heart attack is when a coronary artery is blocked and interrupts blood flow to the heart. Think of it more as a plumbing issues. In both cases, there is something causing the flow to be greatly reduced or stopped. With a heart attack, you will have some time before it turns into a cardiac arrest.

Myocardial Infarction (MI)

Signs & Symptoms

35 years of age or older (can be younger in some cases)

Chest Pain

Arm Pain

Jaw Pain

Shortness of Breath





Plumbing Issue


Activate 911 as soon as symptoms are noticeable. The person needs the intervention of a doctor

If the person is still responsive, stay at their side until EMS arrives

If the person is unresponsive, administer chest compressions and tell the 911 operator it is a cardiac arrest!

Cardiac Arrest

A cardiac arrest is an electrical malfunction of the heart that causes the heart to stop beating correctly. Cardiac arrest is something that happens suddenly or the end result of a heart attack. Think of it more as an electrical problem where everything shuts off as soon as the plug is pulled.

Heart Rhythmn

Signs & Symptoms

There is no warning for a cardiac arrest

The person will suddenly collapse or slump over

The person will be unresponsive and not breathing

The person may gasp or shake mimicking breathing or a seizure

Electrical problem


Activate 911 and inform them that there is a cardiac arrest

Immediately start chest compressions in the center of the chest hard and fast

Tell someone to grab an AED if nearby, turn it on and follow the prompts.

Do not stop compressions until first responders arrive.

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