TRAFFIC Detours and Parking Updates around Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

Make an Appointment

Wellness Watch - Sudden Cardiac Arrest VS. Heart Attack

Sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack are two different heart problems, but both are serious and potentially deadly. The most important thing to remember with both is that the patient needs medical care right away. If you think someone is suffering from either condition, call 911 immediately.

What is cardiac arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest usually occurs without warning when an electrical malfunction in the heart causes an irregular heartbeat or causes the heart to stop. When it occurs, the heart cannot pump blood to vital organs, and a victim will die within minutes without treatment. Cardiac arrest can occur after a heart attack, but in many cases, it is unrelated to a heart attack. It may happen so suddenly that no symptoms are apparent before the heart stops beating. If there are brief symptoms, they may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked.  If blocked arteries are not cleared quickly, the heart may suffer irreparable damage and the person may die.  Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain, pressure or tightness
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulder, arm, back, neck or jaw
  • Fatigue
  • Cold sweat
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Heartburn

Phoebe Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Russell Jones explains more about cardiac arrest and heart attacks and what may cause them.

If someone’s heart stops, high-quality CPR and/or a shock from an automated external defibrillator (AED) may be necessary to save the person’s life before emergency medical personnel arrive. AEDs are found in many public areas. They are designed to be used by people with no medical training and no training on AED use. They use voice prompts that clearly explain how to use them.

Here are the steps on how to use an AED.

  1. Turn on the AED and follow voice prompts.
  2. Remove clothing from the chest.
  3. Place one pad on the upper right side of the chest and the other on the lower left side of the chest.
  4. Plug the pad connector cable into the AED.
  5. Let the AED analyze the heart’s rhythm.
  6. If the AED says a shock is recommended, say “clear” in a loud and commanding voice and make sure no one is touching the body, then push the “shock” button.
  7. After the AED delivers the shock, or if no shock is advised, immediately start CPR.

Watch this video to see how an AED saved the life of an Albany teenager.