The Difference Between A Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Heart attack and cardiac arrest are terms that are often used interchangeably; however, the two are very different life-threatening emergencies.  A heart attack is best described as a circulation problem, while a cardiac arrest is described as an electrical problem.

A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs when blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart is severely reduced or blocked.  This blockage can be caused by the buildup of cholesterol, fat deposits, or other substances in the coronary arteries. The decreased flow of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle can lead to severe damage or death. The most common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, shoulder, or stomach
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

Time is of the essence when treating a heart attack. Each minute that goes by can result in more damage to the heart.  Emergency treatment, which includes medications, surgery, or a combination of both, is needed to restore the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.

Cardiac arrest occurs when there is an electrical malfunction of the heart that causes it to stop pumping blood to other parts of the body. This can result in the loss of consciousness or death if not treated quickly.   The signs of a cardiac arrest are immediate and can include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Collapsing suddenly
  • Not breathing or gasping for air

Treatment for cardiac arrest should be immediate. Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed, and a defibrillator shocks the heart to restore a normal rhythm within a few minutes.  Emergency treatment is needed to treat complications that may have resulted from cardiac arrest.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is recognized as a Primary Heart Attack Center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association. This certification reflects the hospital’s commitment to providing a high standard of cardiac care to heart attack patients.

Jamaica Hospital’s Cardiology Department cardiology takes pride in providing patients with the very best in heart health care. Our experts provide a wide range of inpatient and outpatient cardiovascular services for those with known or suspected diseases of the heart and blood vessels. To schedule an appointment with our cardiologists, please call 718-206-7100.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Facts About Aspirin Therapy

Daily aspirin therapy is sometimes recommended for people who are at risk for heart attacks or diagnosed with certain heart diseases. While this form of therapy is effective, it may not be the right form of treatment for everyone.

Taking occasional doses of aspirin is typically safe; however, daily use can lead to serious side effects.  This is why it is highly advised that you speak with your doctor to determine if this approach is best for you. Serious side effects of aspirin can include:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • A stroke resulting from a burst blood vessel
  • Allergic reactions

Recommendations for daily aspirin use may vary from person-to-person. Your doctor may recommend this regimen if you have:

  • Coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis
  • Had a heart attack
  • Had a transient ischemic attack or stroke
  • Had bypass surgery or a stent placement procedure

Your doctor may not recommend daily aspirin therapy if you:

  • Have a bleeding or clotting disorder
  • Have bleeding stomach ulcers
  • Have an aspirin intolerance
  • Drink alcohol regularly
  • Are undergoing certain medical or dental procedures

If you are considering daily aspirin therapy, you must consult your physician before you begin.  You should inform your doctor about any health conditions or risks you may have that will increase the chances of complications.  Provide a list of medications that you are taking, as some may contribute to drug interactions and adverse effects.  Based on the current condition of your health, your doctor will advise you as to whether or not daily aspirin therapy is right for you.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.