Are heart attacks, heart failure, and cardiac arrest the same? 

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The heart is indeed a strong yet resilient organ. Although it is true that vital organs beside the heart are important to the human, the heart itself is one of the powerful organs inside a human body. Imagine how it is able to pump blood for the rest of a human life without a stop and the blood is pumped through the 100 000 kilometres length of blood vessels in the human blood circulation system. Thus, it is important to take care of your heart health so that your heart can always work efficiently throughout your life.

 When the heart is not well taken care of, heart diseases will always be the result. Heart diseases such as heart attacks, heart failure and cardiac arrest are among the common diseases related to the heart. The question now is, are there differences between the three terms mentioned just now? It will be beneficial for you to understand these terms so that the next time you go search the web or ask a doctor, you will understand better and to be certain of what to ask or do if any of these conditions occur. To better understand these conditions, we will be dividing into 3 different parts.

Heart Attack

Heart attack occurs when there is blockage in one of the artery arteries. This causes the blood flow to the heart muscle to be disrupted and may result in death of the heart muscle. The usual cause of a heart attack is the blockage made up of fats known as plaques on the wall of the artery. Before a heart attack, rupture or burst of the plaques will cause formation of blood clot at the ruptured site. This clot will block the blood supply to the heart. This condition is known as coronary artery disease. Risk factors include smoking, diet high in fat, high level of blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and being overweight or obese. Symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath and pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm or shoulder. Nonspecific symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, indigestion, weakness, dizziness, loss of appetite and cough, often occur in women compared to men since men usually experience the classic symptoms of heart attack.

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition characterised by the impaired heart function or heart structures that leads to the heart unable to pump blood as demanded by the body blood circulation system. It is typically caused by coronary artery disease, similar to heart attack. Heart failure symptoms can range from mild to severe. It can be constant or come and go. Symptoms depend on which side of the heart is affected. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue even after taking rest, swelling of the lower legs or abdomen, temporary rapid weight gain, difficulty to sleep when lying flat, swelling in the veins of the neck, persistent coughing and nausea.

Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops and stops pumping. It is typically caused by the irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmia. There are many kinds of arrhythmia but the main cause behind arrhythmias leading to cardiac arrest are ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. Risk factors include history of cardiac arrest before, coronary artery disease, heart valve disease and congenital heart defects. Most people who have cardiac arrest, have one or more symptoms in the hour before the event of the cardiac arrest occurs. Some symptoms may even be seen a few weeks before the cardiac arrest. However, many people may have no prior symptoms before the cardiac arrest. Warning signs such as signs of heart attack can be the cause of cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest symptoms themselves often lead a person to lose consciousness or collapse suddenly, breathing problems such as ineffective breathing, gasping for air or not breathing at all and no pulse can be detected.

       It can be concluded that heart attack, heart failure and cardiac arrest are not the same condition. Although it is true that symptoms of heart attack have relation to being clues of a cardiac arrest, it is not the same disease. In fact, cardiac arrest can be more dangerous than a heart attack as 9 out of 10 people who have had cardiac arrest outside of hospital often die within minutes compared to people who have had heart attack which dies in the first 3 or 4 hours after symptoms. Heart attacks can cause cardiac arrest but not in most cases. Cardiac arrest can occur even if it is not related to the heart. One thing for sure, cardiac arrest and heart attack are both serious medical emergencies and a life-threatening event that require immediate medical attention. Heart failure may not be as serious as heart attack or cardiac arrest as it is usually a chronic condition which occurs in the long term but it may be sudden such as contributing to arrhythmia leading to cardiac arrest.

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