Chest pain is a common reason for people to visit the emergency room, although these symptoms don’t always indicate that the person is experiencing a heart attack or cardiac arrest. Immediate medical attention is the best option when the symptoms are present. If heart problems are treated promptly, then the condition may be reversible with the right medications and care. Untreated heart issues could be fatal.
Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack
The terms “heart attack” and “cardiac arrest” are often used as synonyms, although there are distinct differences between these two conditions.
- Heart Attack: A heart attack happens because the blood flow to the heart is blocked. If an artery is blocked, then it stops the oxygen-rich blood from reaching that portion of the heart. Surgical procedures can be done to reopen the artery, but this treatment must be done quickly so that the artery doesn’t die due to a lack of nutrition that typically comes from the blood supply. The longer a person goes without treatment, the more damage is done to the heart. Symptoms of a heart attack include pain or tightness in the chest, as well as shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and more.
- Cardiac Arrest: Cardiac arrest causes the heart to suddenly stop beating due to a malfunction that affects the pumping action of the organ. The disruption of the heart usually occurs suddenly, with no warning that there is a problem with the organ. Cardiac arrest happens when there is an electrical failure in the heart that results in arrhythmia (an uneven heartbeat). When the pumping action is disrupted, the heart is unable to pump oxygen-rich blood to other important organs, such as the lungs, brain, and more. Within seconds, the person will have no pulse, stops breathing, and will lose consciousness. Death is likely without immediate treatment.
When a heart attack is occurring, the symptoms are sometimes intense and immediate. But it is common for the symptoms to start small and persist for a time before the heart attack occurs. The main difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest is that the heart usually doesn’t stop beating when a person is experiencing a heart attack.
What to Do in an Emergency
Every minute matters! Even when you are unsure if you are having a heart attack, it is critical that you receive emergency care as soon as possible. Emergency medical services can provide treatment immediately, and also revive someone if their heart has stopped.
Time is more limited for cardiac arrest treatment. Most people are only a few minutes away from death, which is why it is essential to contact the nearest emergency team. If an external defibrillator is available, then this tool can be used to restart the heart. Otherwise, CPR should begin immediately, with continued CPR treatments until medical services arrive.
Head to the Nearest Emergency Room
It is essential that you know the location of the nearest ER so you can access immediate treatment in case of an emergency. If you are having symptoms of a heart attack, then don’t delay a visit to our emergency room. If someone is not breathing and unresponsive due to cardiac arrest, then you should call 911 and begin CPR immediately.
When an emergency happens, our board-certified team is here to help. Contact us at iCare ER and Urgent Care for everything from small medical concerns to emergency situations. We offer both emergency and urgent care services, giving you a one-stop location for all your healthcare needs. You can call ahead to schedule an appointment, or come straight to our ER if it is an emergency: (214) 407-8668.