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Heart attack and cardiac arrest what’s the difference? This sheds some light on their differences, their signs and symptoms and treatments.

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when a portion of the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and dies.

Signs and symptoms:

Sudden crushing, vice like central chest pain that may radiate to the jaw, left and right arm
Some casualties may also describe the pain as indigestion or as though a heavy weight was placed on their chest
Cold, clammy skin – ashen in colour
Rapid pulse, sometimes irregular
Shortness of breath
Feeling faint or collapse
Nausea and/or vomiting
Impending sense of doom


Airway, Breathing and Circulation
Put the patient at ease
Minimise the work of the heart
Position – half sitting, head and shoulders raised, knees bent (the W position)
Loosen tight clothing
If available offer 300mg of Aspirin – if over the age of 16 and able to consent
Seek urgent medical help
Be prepared to resuscitate

Cardiac Arrest

Describes any sudden “stoppage” of the heart
Possible causes include:
Heart attack • Electric shock
Blood loss • Drug overdose
Suffocation • Hypothermia
Unresponsive and the absence of normal breathing


Commence C.P.R.
Seek urgent medical help