Heart Attack and Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Same or Different?

Many people tend to think that a Heart Attack is the same thing as a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. This statement couldn't be less true. The two are completely different! So in honor of Nation CPR and AED Awareness Week, let's set the record straight:

Heart Attack

  • A "plumbing" issue or blockage in the heart
  • Heart Disease is responsible for over 350,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
  • Victim is most likely conscious and alert
  • Heart is still pumping blood (even if it is working harder than usual)
  • Physical symptoms are present:  Men - Tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, pain in the left arm or rotates between left and right arms, Women - Usually more back, neck, and jaw pain, and feeling of "indigestion"

What to do if Someone is Having Symptoms of a Heart Attack:

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Have someone get the AED (do not use the AED unless victim collapses and stops breathing) and the First Aid Kit
  • Have the victim sit down and keep calm
  • Ask if the victim has any heart meds
  • If no heart meds, ask the victim if they are allergic to aspirin or have had any recent bleeding or a stroke
  • Offer 1 regular dose of aspirin or 2 baby aspirins
  • Monitor the victim and try to keep calm while waiting for EMS

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

  • An "electrical" issue with the actual heart rhythm
  • Kills 1 person every 90 seconds in the U.S.
  • Does not play favorites to age or gender
  • Little to no symptoms prior to collapses
  • Happens Suddenly - Victim collapses within a matter of seconds
  • Upon collapse, victim is not breathing and not responding - Lifeless
  • Heart stops pumping blood to brain and other organs
  • Brain damage and brain death can occur within minutes if nothing is done prior to EMS arrival

What to do if Someone Suddenly Collapses

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Have someone get the AED and the First Aid Kit
  • While waiting for the AED, have someone start CPR
  • Start CPR by pushing hard and fast on the center of the chest
  • Keep performing chest compressions until AED is ready for use
  • Turn the AED "On" and listen to the prompts
  • AEDs are easy to use - just follow the prompts!
  • After a shock is delivered, the AED will tell you when to start back into the CPR
  • Keep following the prompts of the AED and performing CPR until EMS arrives

Take the initiative and be prepared to save a life because Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen anywhere and at any time.

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