“A cardiac arrest is when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body. When your heart stops pumping blood, your brain is starved of oxygen”.1

Umbrella
What may the Cardiac Arrest Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)

Definition

What is a cardiac arrest?

DotS the definition of a cardiac arrest may vary. The British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) definition is:

“A cardiac arrest is when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body. When your heart stops pumping blood, your brain is starved of oxygen. This causes you to fall unconscious and stop breathing”.2

The American Heart Association’s (AHA) definition is:

“Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have been diagnosed with heart disease. It can come on suddenly, or in the wake of other symptoms”.3

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

What is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)?

DotS the definition of SCA may vary. In Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What Is the (United States) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) definition is:

“Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs”.

Cardiac Arrest or Heart Attack

Is a cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?

No. In Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest: How Are They Different? the AHA elaborate on:

“People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a “circulation” problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical” problem”.

Cause

What causes a cardiac arrest?

In About Cardiac Arrest: Is A Heart Attack the Same As Cardiac Arrest? the AHA explain:

“Cardiac arrest may be caused by irregular heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. A common arrhythmia associated with cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation means that the heart’s lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and don’t pump blood”.

In Cardiac Arrest: What Causes A Cardiac Arrest? the BHF note:

“A common cause of a cardiac arrest is a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF)”.7

Ventricular Fibrillation

What is ventricular fibrillation (VF)?

In Cardiac Arrest: What Causes A Cardiac Arrest? the BHF elaborate on:

“VF happens when the electrical activity of the heart becomes so chaotic that the heart stops pumping, Instead, it quivers or ‘fibrillates’”.8

Cardiac ArrestHealth Care Provider

What if I think I could be at risk for a cardiac arrest?

If you think you could be at risk for a cardiac arrest, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. Together you can discuss your options and if required, agree on who may be the most appropriate health care provider to help you.

Health Topics A-Z

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

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Sources

  1. Cardiac Arrest. British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/cardiac-arrest.aspx Accessed: 30 March 2020
  2. Cardiac Arrest. British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/cardiac-arrest.aspx Accessed: 30 March 2020
  3. About Cardiac Arrest: What Is Cardiac Arrest? Last Reviewed: 31 March 2017. American Heart Association https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cardiac-arrest/about-cardiac-arrest#.WgN3WTprypo Accessed: 30 March 2020
  4. Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What Is. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sudden-cardiac-arrest Accessed: 30 March 2020
  5. Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest: How Are They Different? Last Reviewed: 31 July 2015. American Heart Association https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/AboutHeartAttacks/Heart-Attack-or-Sudden-Cardiac-Arrest-How-Are-They-Different_UCM_440804_Article.jsp#.WgN4vnZx2po Accessed: 30 March 2020
  6. About Cardiac Arrest: Is A Heart Attack the Same As Cardiac Arrest? Last Reviewed: 31 March 2017. American Heart Association https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/CardiacArrest/About-Cardiac-Arrest_UCM_307905_Article.jsp Accessed: 30 March 2020
  7. Cardiac Arrest: What Causes A Cardiac Arrest? British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/cardiac-arrest.aspx Accessed: 30 March 2020
  8. Cardiac Arrest: What Causes A Cardiac Arrest? British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/cardiac-arrest.aspx Accessed: 30 March 2020
Topic Last Updated: 30 March 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 30 March 2020
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