Sridevi: Understanding the difference between sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack

File photo of Sridevi. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 26, 2018, 02.28 AM (IST)

Bollywood's first female superstar Sridevi died of a cardiac arrest late Saturday night. 

Her death has left the nation in shock, with people asking how a person who looked healthy could have died without any warning.

Also read: Sridevi had no history of heart ailment says Sanjay Kapoor

The answer to that of course is a sudden cardiac arrest, which can be caused by a heart attack, but which is not necessarily the same thing as a heart attack. 

Also read: Sridevi's last rites to be conducted Monday afternoon

What is a sudden cardiac arrest?

The heart abruptly stops functioning during a sudden cardiac arrest. There are no prior symptoms.

Also read: The diva who lit up Indian cinema screen

When the heart stops, the brain and other vital organs stop receiving oxygen. If not treated, death can ensue in minutes.

Symptoms: The sypmtoms of a cardiac arrest include a person suddenly collapsing, the loss of consciousness, the absence of a pulse, and a person not breathing.

Risk Factors: 

•Previous heart attack - 75% of SCA cases are linked to a previous heart attack
•Coronary artery disease
•Family history – genetic reasons put even younger populations at risk
•Cardiomyopathy
•Cardiac failure

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the heart, causing blockage of an artery. Again, without blood flow, the body's vital organs are starved of oxygen, which can lead to death.

A heart attack is easier to spot because it comes with prior symptoms, like tightness of the chest or chest pain, a sharp ache in the left arm, fatigue, lightheadedness and an abnormal heartbeat.

Symptoms: The symptoms of a heart attack aren't always obvious but they include discomfort in the left side of the chest/upper abdomen, shortness of breath from any from any form of exertion, a cold sweat, and vomiting/nausea.

Risk Factors: 

•Age 
•High blood pressure (hypertension)
•Smoking
•High serum cholesterol
•Family history of coronary disease
•Diabetes
•Stress and obesity

Cardiac arrest vs heart attack: How are they different?

A cardiac arrest is sudden, unexpected and occurs when your heart stops pumping blood to your body. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked.