A common cause of chest pain is due to heart attack or a sudden cardiac arrest, two heart conditions with various differences.
A heart attack occurs when there is a sudden obstruction of blood flow in the coronary artery. The part of the heart muscle which does not receive blood would be at risk of injury. Chest pain that lasts longer than 15 minutes and not relieved by rest might signal an impending heart attack. A heart attack can trigger life-threatening arrhythmia, leading to suddencardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest occurs when there is a dangerous form of electrical malfunction in the heart. This causes the heart to pump ineffectively, resulting in the inability of vital organs to receive blood and oxygen. A person with sudden cardiac arrest might lose consciousness, collapse suddenly and become pulseless. Without emergency treatment, death usually ensues within minutes.
The symptoms of a heart attack are typically more pronounced.
Severe chest pain or discomfort lasting longer than 15 minutes
New onset of chest pain or discomfort at rest or with minimal exertion
Shortness of breath
Cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness
Sudden cardiac arrest often occurs without warning symptoms. Occasionally, short-lived warning symptoms might occur.
What to do
Requires immediate medical attention. Treatment may involve blood-thinning medication and coronary angioplasty (e.g. ballooning or stenting) to quickly unblock the affected coronary artery, allowing blood to flow. In some cases, coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) may be required.
Needs emergency treatment. In the first instance of sudden cardiac arrest, call 995 for an ambulance immediately. Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and deliver treatment with automated external defibrillator (AED) while waiting for medical help to arrive. By doing so, it increases the person’s chances of survival.
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