Cardiac arrest - an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs - is a leading cause of death. Each year, over 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States.
When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately receiving CPR from someone nearby.
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The Difference Between a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest
People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a "circulation" problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an "electrical" problem.
These two distinct heart conditions are linked. Most heart attacks do not lead to cardiac arrest. But when cardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause. Learn more about these conditions and what you can do, here.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense - the "movie heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Read more about the signs.
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