Is cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?
A cardiac arrest is usually confused with a heart attack, however, both are markedly different. A heart attack is caused by the blood flow to the heart being blocked. It is thus a problem with blood circulation. A cardiac arrest is caused by confused signal impulses in the heart, resulting in the heart beating irregularly or stopping unexpectedly. It is thus a problem with the ‘electrical signals’ that determine how the heart beats.
What is cardiac arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest often occurs without warning, triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that results in an irregular heartbeat (a condition known as arrhythmia). This disrupts the heart’s pumping action, and hence affects the blood supply to surrounding tissues and organs such as the brain. Within seconds, the affected person may lose consciousness with loss of pulse, and this may result in death should treatment not be administered within minutes.
What causes cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest can be caused by a variety of heart diseases, but is most commonly associated with acquired or congenital malformations of the heart. Intense sporting activities may trigger sudden cardiac arrest, or stimulate the progression of the condition for susceptible individuals.
Can cardiac arrest be prevented?
It is important to be aware of any heart abnormalities you may have, and doctors recommend to undergo a heart screening before taking part in any form of vigorous or competitive sport, such as a long-distance marathon. Known as pre-participation screening, this can help detect any problems with the heart and minimise the risk of sudden heart-related conditions in the midst of exertion. Speak to your doctor to find out more on the screening options available.