Good health is on a lot of minds these days. Even before coronavirus was a thing, people were giving thought to healthy living. They were thinking about things like exercise, changing their diets, and being careful about drug and alcohol use. The interesting thing is that a lot of us make health choices based on very limited knowledge.
For example, how much do you know about heart attack and cardiac arrest? Based on the knowledge you do possess, would you be in favour of installing defibrillators in all public spaces? The topic of publicly accessible defibrillators is often complicated by a lack of knowledge about heart attack and cardiac arrest.
For the record, the two medical conditions are separate and distinct. One can lead to the other, but they are not the same. In fact, you would not use a defibrillator to treat a heart attack. That is one of the many misunderstandings surrounding this topic.
What a Heart Attack Is
People using ‘heart attack’ and ‘cardiac arrest’ interchangeably is nothing new. We have been doing it for years. Nonetheless, a heart attack is a very specific thing. It occurs while the heart is still beating. If not treated swiftly, it can eventually lead to cardiac arrest. More on that later.
Heart attack is a condition that occurs when blood supply to the heart is cut off. Also known as myocardial infarction (MI), a heart attack is almost always caused by a blocked artery. Blood does not make it to the heart, thereby causing muscle tissue to begin dying. The amount of damage done is generally in direct correlation to the length of time the blood supply is cut off.
Because a heart attack occurs when the heart is still beating, defibrillation will not help. The way to treat a heart attack is to get the blood flowing to the heart again.
Heart Attack Symptoms
Knowing heart attack symptoms can help people differentiate between it and cardiac arrest. The two most common symptoms are chest pain and shortness of breath. In terms of the former, the pain is often described as intense pressure on the chest applied by a heavy object. It is described as being a squeezing pain that can radiate into the arms, back, neck, and jaw.
Shortness of breath is pretty self-explanatory. A person suffering from it would feel like he or she is not getting enough air