Differentiating Sudden Cardiac Arrest from Heart Attack

April 23, 2014Comments Off on Differentiating Sudden Cardiac Arrest from Heart Attack

Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA, is considered to be one of the top causes of mortality in the US. Currently, around 95% of people who suffer from it do not make it by the time they reach the hospital. In some cases, the survival rate is only around 2% to 5% especially if defibrillation is not done within the next 12 minutes after the patient has become unconscious. Because of its gravity, it comes as no surprise that most people treat each case of heart attack as one and the same as that of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. In truth, however, Sudden Cardiac Arrest is different from a heart attack.

Generally, a cardiac arrest means the heart stopped beating. This could be due to an illness or an injury, or due to an existing medical condition. In most cases, the cardiac arrest leaves a number of signs and symptoms before the attack actually happens. There are, however, cases where the heart stops abruptly. This is what is known as the Sudden Cardiac Arrest. While SCA and heart attack both concern the same organ, the reasons leading to the two are rarely the same. For one, in a Sudden Cardiac Arrest takes place when something causes the normal beating patterns to go haywire. Some of the common reasons why this happen include thickened heart muscle, arrhythmia, and long Q-T Syndrome. In a heart, attack, however, the culprit is typically a clot in one of the blood vessels that denies the heart the much needed oxygen. This then leads to death of the heart tissue which causes the heart to stop working efficiently and die. Some of the common causes of heart attack include Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), Aneurysm, and drug misuse. In a heart attack, the organ does not altogether stop beating. The symptoms usually last for a few days to more than a week before the heart eventually gives up. That being the case, there tends to be a lower mortality rate when it comes to heart attack.

Now, just because a heart attack is different from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest does not mean that they could not exist together. In fact, there have been cases wherein SCA followed a heart attack. That being the case, it can be said that the occurrence of a heart attack actually increases the chances of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. This only means that, as soon as a victim falls unconscious, you need to treat the situation as if you are sure that what you have on hand is a Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  Keep in mind that most cardiac arrests are reversible if chest compression is done within the next few minutes. For those who lack sufficient training in CPR, this means that you only need to pump the victim’s chest 100 times per minute until he or she becomes conscious or until help arrives. The situation becomes even more bearable if there is an AED device nearby that could provide instructions on what needs to be done.

If you would like to make sure that you are ready for any situation, your best move would be to get your own CPR certification. Companies like Citywide CPR offer this kind of service, plus more.