Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack vs. Heart Failure: What’s The Difference?

Many people tend to confuse and interchange the terms “heart attack” and “cardiac arrest,” but it is very important to note that these are two completely different medical conditions.

Understanding these differences can help save lives.


What is Cardiac Arrest?

A cardiac arrest is a sudden collapse in an individual who is non-responsive, and who has abnormal breathing. Abnormal breathing is either agonal respiration, or gasping, or not breathing at all. In sudden cardiac arrest, the heart stops completely. In this situation, it is important to call 9-1-1, and to administer CPR if necessary. Unless treated, a person suffering from cardiac arrest can die within minutes.

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when the arteries supplying the heart become blocked. The first branches of the aorta sit on top of the heart like a crown. They’re called coronary arteries. If you block these branches, the heart doesn’t get enough blood. The result is a myocardial infarction, which is the technical term for a heart attack.

What is Heart Failure?

Also called congestive heart failure, heart failure is a condition where the heart can no longer…