“I thought Heart attack and a Cardiac Arrest are the same things??”
They can both deadly, but would you recognise which was which in an emergency?
Of all the medical conditions, heart attack and cardiac arrest are arguably the best known and least understood. The problem is:
1. Both can quickly prove fatal.
2. They each require radically different treatments.
3. Most people don’t know the difference between them.
We can use a simple car analogy to look at the differences. Whilst driving a car, the fuel pipe that feeds petrol to the engine becomes blocked, which leads the car to a spluttering halt. This, basically, is a heart attack.
Now, imagine you’re driving the same car and it breaks down for no obvious reason. There’s no engine turnover, no electrics working, nothing. That’s a cardiac arrest.
In simple terms, a heart attack is a plumbing issue – an artery is blocked and is stopping blood and oxygen getting to the heart, resulting in damage to the the heart muscle.
Cardiac Arrest, on the other hand, is most frequently an electrical problem – a short circuit prevents the heart from pumping blood around the body. As with the car with no petrol, the car will eventually cut out – so a heart attack can sometimes lead to a cardiac arrest.
They really are very different conditions. Given that the treatment for each condition is so different, it’s important that you are able to recognise the symptoms and deal with it accordingly.
If someone collapses suddenly, is unconscious and not breathing, time is of the essence.
1. Call 999 as soon as possible, or get someone else to do it.
2. Push down firmly in the middle of the chest and release.
Chest compression should ideally be no more than 6cms in depth – but measuring isnt the easiest thing to do. This will help the blood move round the body and helps keep the vital organs alive.
3. Push at a regular rate until help arrives.
If you are able to blow 2 breaths into them, that’s great. Do it every 30 compressions… if you don’t fancy doing the breaths, stick with the compressions.
The casualty has a persistent, vice-like chest pain, which may spread to the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach. They’ll be really sweaty and pale in colour.
1. Call 999 immediately or get someone else to do it.
2. Make sure they are sitting in a comfortable position.
This will ease some of the strain on the heart. By sitting them, it should help to reduce the risk of them hurting themselves should they collapse.
3. Give the casualty lots of reassurance while waiting for the ambulance.
They’ll not be feeling too well to say the least, so lots of caring reassurance. Be prepared to start CPR – 30 compressions in the centre of the chest and a couple of breaths if possible.
They are both very serious conditions, and acting promptly and calmly may be the difference between life and death. First Aid Training is a great way to fully understand these conditions. We are always here to help out, so if you ever have any questions regarding this or any other treatment of conditions then please feel free to ask. Of course; we are happy to help train you up too…