Difference Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

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It is often seen that people get confused between the two terms heart attack and cardiac arrest. However, they both are different conditions, and one must know the difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest to identify the symptoms and take necessary preliminary measures for its treatment. In case of a heart attack, the flow of blood to the heart is interrupted making it stop beating slowly. However, a cardiac arrest makes the person collapse as their heart organ stops functioning.   

Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack

To understand the difference between the two, you will have to look for the difference in symptoms between these two. 

In case of a heart attack, these following symptoms are observed –

  • Chest pain 

  • Anxiety 

  • Chest pain may spread to arms, neck, jaw, abdomen, and back. 

  • Cough 

  • Weakness 

  • Dizziness 

  • Palpitations 

  • Shortness of breath 

In case of cardiac arrest, these following symptoms can be seen – 

  • Shortness of breath. 

  • No pulse to be found. 

  • Affected person becomes unconscious or unresponsive. 

Further, refer to the table drawn below to understand the difference between cardiac arrest and heart failure. 

Difference Between Cardiac Arrest and Heart failure

SI. No. 

  Heart Attack Condition

  Cardiac Arrest

1

This occurs in case there is a blockage in one of the coronary arteries in the heart.

In this case, the heart stops beating all of a sudden. It can be caused due to various reasons. 

2

Clotting of blood in the arteries prevent the smooth flow of blood through the heart muscle, causing an individual to pass away slowly. 

 Here, the heart becomes unresponsive because of ventricular fibrillation, drug overdose, a clot in lungs, imbalance of minerals in blood, etc. 

3

Shock, hypothermia, drowning, etc. are a few reasons for heart attack. 

Here, cardiac arrest may occur as a result of a heart attack. Notably, the other way around is not possible. This is a prominent cardiac arrest and heart attack difference.

4

Individuals with unhealthy diet habits, less physical activity, smokers, etc. possess an increased threat of having a heart attack. 

Overweight individuals and the ones not doing exercise for a healthy lifestyle have increased chances of cardiac arrest. 

5

Weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, chest pain are a few symptoms of heart attack. 

Shortness of breath, drop in pulse, and unresponsive body are a few symptoms of cardiac arrest. 


Despite the differences, both cardiac arrest and heart attack are severe conditions which can be life-threatening if not cured in time. In either situation, it is imperative to call help and seek emergency medical attention to treat the patient in order to save their life. 

Multiple-choice questions 

  1. Choose an Appropriate Option Regarding The Cardiac Arrest.

a) The heart stopped beating. 

b) The heart has not stopped beating and is beating very slowly. 

c) Heartbeat is regular. 

d) Irregular heartbeat. 

Ans: a 

  1. Choose The Right Option Whichever is True Regarding Cardiac Arrest 

  1. The heart has stopped functioning or beating. 

  2. There is some electrical malfunction in the deceased heart. 

  3. It can lead to the death of the affected individual. 

  4. All of the above 

Ans: d 

You must know the difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest so that you can differentiate between their symptoms and seek the necessary treatment immediately. Besides, learning this also helps you progress in your academic ventures.

Now you can also download our Vedantu app and improve your academic performance significantly. You can refer to the quality notes prepared by our expert tutors and ensure to excel in your performance. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the difference between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest? 

Ans: Heart attack is caused due to clotting of blood in the arteries or blockage in arteries, whereas cardiac arrest can be a sudden stop in a heartbeat because of a drug overdose, ventricular fibrillation, etc. 

2. What are the reasons behind Cardiac Arrest? 

Ans: The most common reason for a cardiac arrest is the malfunction of an electrical system of the heart. This is most common with patients having a heart attack problem or high blood pressure. 

3. What is the Course of Action to Cure a Person having Cardiac Arrest?

Ans: Cardiac arrest is a situation which can be reversed if necessary medical attention is provided in due time. It is a time sensitive medical condition, and it is important that you seek medical assistance immediately.