The Difference between a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

  • Cardiac-arrest

How many of us really know the difference between a cardiac arrest and heart attack? Both conditions are often confused with meaning the same. However, a cardiac arrest is when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. It is when the heart develops an arrhythmia (the heart beats too fast or too slow) that causes it to stop beating. On the other hand, a heart attack (myocardial infarction) refers to the death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply. A heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest, but it is not the same as a cardiac arrest.


It is important to know the symptoms of both illnesses. For instance, a heart attack can be known as a “silent killer” because some people ignore the warning signs or underestimate the symptoms as something small.

The symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest discomfort:  Feels like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body:  arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath: with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs: includes breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

The signs of cardiac arrest are:

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders).
    • No response to tapping on shoulders.

If you or someone around you is experiencing the signs of a heart attack or cardiac arrest, call 911! It is crucial to be educated about these warning signs to prevent death. It is also important to have regular check-ups with your cardiologist to ensure that you are not at risk for a heart attack.

If you are unsure about any information regarding your heart health, feel free to ask your cardiologist. If you live around the Boca Raton area you can always stop by at Cardiology Associates of Boca Raton and all your cardiology needs will be taken care of!




About the Author:

Rahonie Evans, ARNP, has joined Holy Cross Medical Group-Cardiology Associates of Boca Raton. Ms. Evans went to nursing school at Florida Atlantic University and received her MSN Nursing and Advance Registered Nurse Practitioner license in 2009. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and has worked in hospital telemetry and ICU/CCU units. Ms. Evans has experience in interventional and general cardiology and specializes in the management of PT/INR anticoagulation therapy, hypertension, cardiac disease, cardiac arrhythmia and general internal medicine.

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