Frequently you will hear the terms Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest used interchangeably. In reality, these are two very different serious events that need immediate care. One is attributed to a blood flow issue and the other is attributed to an electrical issue.
Cardiac Arrest Symptoms
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is when the heart has an electrical malfunction causing the heart to beat irregularly (also known as arrhythmia). Within seconds the person will be become unresponsive and if no help arrives death will occur in minutes. For every minute that passes without CPR and AED being applied, the person’s chance of survival drops by 7 to 10 percent.
Heart Attack Symptoms
A heart attack is caused when one of the arteries supplying oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked. This leads to heart tissue dying due to a lack of oxygen. A person suffering from a heart attack may experience discomfort in the chest, arms, jaw, back, or shoulder blades. They may experience shortness of breath, break out in a cold sweat or may become nauseated. They will not always become unresponsive. A person suffering a heart attack very well may insist that they will be fine. That it will pass because it is just heartburn.
In Either Case, You Need to Act Fast!
No matter what scenario you find yourself in, the key is that you need to act fast. Immediately call for help. The sooner that medical help arrives the better the chance of survival. If the person involved is insisting they are fine, yet you are unsure, err on the side of caution and call 911. It is best not to transport a person who you think is having a cardiac event on your own. It is possible the situation could escalate while you are on the road. An ambulance is equipped to deal with a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest situation, so calling one should be top priority.
If you think a person is having a heart attack and they are conscious. Ask them if they have any allergies to aspirin, have had any bleeding or a history of stroke. If not give them a tablet of adult aspirin or two low dose tablets. This could help with blockage of the heart. If they answer yes to any of the questions you ask, DO NOT give them aspirin.
When it comes to a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest, if you come across a person and they are unconscious and unresponsive, go through the steps that you learned in your CPR class. Early compressions and defibrillation are life savers!
Haven’t taken a CPR class? Then it's time you do.