Difference Between Signs of Cardiac Arrest and Symptom of Heart Attack

Signs of Cardiac Arrest vs Symptom of Heart Attack

The symptoms are the experiences or feelings of a patient which are not normal and indicating a disease condition. Signs are medical characteristics which are detected by a doctor/ health care giver.

A symptom can be a sign when it is detected by a doctor. Simple example is fever. If patient complaints fever that is symptom. But when a nurse detects the increased temperature by the thermometer, then it is a sign.

The heart attack is a medical emergency and may be lethal if not managed properly. It is important to identify the symptoms early to treat the patient quickly. Heart attack or Myocardial infarction occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is critically low. The blood vessles supplying the heart muscles are blocked by cholesterol plugs or blood clot or both. The typical symptom of heart attack is severe tightening chest pain in the middle of the chest (retro sternal) or left side of the chest or left arm or shoulder or back. Heart attack pain sometimes present as just tooth ache. The severity of the pain is the most severe form. It is ranked first in severity. It is unbearable. Needs potent pain killers such as morphine. Associated features of the heart attack is due to the excess activation of the sympathetic nerve system. Sweating is noted more frequently. Other features are vomiting feeling (nausea), light headedness.

The heart attack causes the impairment of the heart muscles. The pumping action of the heart is affected. The fluid may be collected in the lungs (pulmonary edema). The oxygen supply is less to the tissues. The patient feels DYSPNEA (difficulty in breathing).

The symptoms of the heart attack may not be prominent if the patient has uncontrolled diabetic (silent myocardial infarction) or having the transplanted heart. The nerves are not functioning in these patients, so the pain and sweating may not be present.

Heart failure occurs when a heart is unable to pump out the blood adequately. The most prominent sign is crack sounds in the lower part of the lungs. This can be identified ay a doctor when he put the stethoscope in the lung. The fluid leaking out and causes pulmonary edema. This causes difficulty in breathing(symptom/sign) and increased respiratory rate. If the heart failure is prolonged the depended part of the body (which are under gravity forces) swells. If a patient in seated or standing position the ankle swells (ankle edema). If a patient is bed ridden the back swells.

If the heart failure caused by valvular diseases, the murmurs are prominent. The rhythm of the heart contain more sounds and called gallop rhythm. (like a horse riding sound).

In severe heart failure the oxygen supply to the tissues are critically low. Then the blood has low oxygen and the de-oxygenated blood give blue colouration. This is called cyanosis. The tongue changes the colour from pink to blue.

In summary,

The heart failure and heart attack are emergency situations which should be identified early to treat.

The symptoms are the characteristics which a patient complains, the signs are detected by a doctor.

The main symptoms and signs are different in heart failure and heart attack, even though there are small overlapping in minor symptoms.

Severe unbearable chest pain is the main symptom of the heart failure.

Difficulty in breathing, body swelling, cyanosis are the main features of heart failure.

The severe heart attack may cause heart failure. Then the symptoms and signs may overlap.