Heart Attack vs. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)

Posted by Heart Niagara on

There is a difference, however, many residents of Niagara, who take part in Heart Niagara training sessions, are under the impression that these two medical afflictions are identical. Let’s try to determine the basis for these misconceptions, and get to the truth of the matter.

When someone is experiencing a heart attack our instructors relate it to a “plumbing” problem, where we find an occlusion of rich-oxygenated blood to a certain portion of the victim’s heart. If this artery isn’t reopened quickly, the portion of the heart once nourished by oxygen carried in the blood stream begins to die.

Let’s change gears and deal with an electrical problem next. This condition is termed Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA. A Sudden Cardiac Arrest is triggered by electrical activity within the heart that produces and irregular heartbeat, also known as an arrhythmia. Instead of the heart beating in a normal rhythmic, mechanical fashion (lub-dub), we see constant firing of the ventricles (2 lower chambers of the heart) which leads to a “jello”, or quivering effect. Our heart is no longer able to build up enough pressure to eject oxygen-rich blood to all parts of our circulatory system.

The only cure for the electrical chaos, seen in Sudden Cardiac Arrest, is a shock transmitted by an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). No intervention given by paramedics at Niagara EMS or doctors in a hospital setting , are going to reverse this condition. Our goal as rescuers is to have the pads from the AED attached to our victims chest within the first three(3) minutes of collapse. This is when our victim has the highest chance of survival.

The only way to have an AED attached within that time frame is to make as many available for public use as possible, placing them at all community hubs throughout the region. Even after placement of these units, it is up to members of the community to take part in Heart Niagara training events through-out the region and support a heart-safe Niagara.

Remember minutes count and seconds matter. Do you know how to save a life?

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.

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