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Los Angeles Longevity & Functional Medicine Doctor

Dr. Allan Kurtz

Board Certified Internal Medicine
Fellowship in Functional Medicine

Heart Attack and Stroke
Prevention Center of Southern California

Health Tips Blog

Cardiac Arrest & Heart Attack: Differences, and Test Results Men and Women in Los Angeles Need to Understand

By: California Center of Longevity & Functional Medicine on October 9, 2017

Cardiac arrest is to blame for the tragic death of Tom Petty, one of the San Fernando Valley's most beloved music icons. Sadly, his death was soon followed by the sudden death of comedian Ralphie May. Like Petty, Ralphie May is also believed to have died prematurely as the result of cardiac arrest.

Although cardiac arrest and heart attacks are both grave, acute medical conditions affecting the heart, they are not the same thing. Here's what men and women in the San Fernando Valley need to know about the difference between cardiac arrest and heart attack:

The Difference Between Cardiac Arrest & Heart Attacks

Cardiac arrest occurs suddenly, and is best described as being an "electrical" malfunction in the heart. That means that the heart malfunctions to the extent that it stops beating altogether. The lack of beating means that the heart cannot pump any blood at all. This sudden cessation of pumping leads to unconsciousness, and death within minutes without effective medical care—such as the use of an Automated External Defibrillator. If a defibrillator is unavailable, CPR should be performed immediately. A cardiac arrest is often prompted by a heart attack.

By contrast, a heart attack is best described as being a "circulation" malfunction. In this case, a blocked artery is responsible for preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching necessary areas of the heart. The lack of oxygen-rich blood can cause part of the heart to die. However, in a heart attack the heart typically does not stop beating. As the result, many men and women in greater Los Angeles experience heart attacks which do not lead to cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest may occur without any symptoms, though a previous heart attack is certainly a risk factor. Likewise, symptoms of heart attacks may vary in men and women, and last days or weeks. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often discarded because they are similar to symptoms of other illnesses. Countless patients realize only after experiencing a heart attack, that the chest discomfort, shortness of breath, cold sweats and/or nausea and vomiting that had been occurring for hours, days, or even weeks before, was a sign that a heart attack was imminent.

Three Scores Men and Women in Los Angeles Need to Know Regarding Heart Health

When it comes to preventing any form of cardiovascular disease, most men and women in Los Angeles know to avoid high cholesterol diets, smoking, and excessive alcohol use. Moreover, we all know that that maintaining a healthy weight, ensuring proper nutrition, reducing stress, and getting plenty of exercise are all important to long term health and reducing the risk of heart attack. However, advanced testing is also available in Los Angeles which can help men and women to better understand their risk for heart attacks or cardiac arrests.

In particular, there are three scores/results from tests that shine a light on your current heart health. These results also indicate your potential risk for developing heart disease, and can be the eye-opener some men and women need, to begin making healthy changes.

The three scores/results you need to know are:
  • Coronary Artery Calcium Score
    This can be identified through a CT Scan of the Coronary Artery which measures the amount of calcium within the coronary arteries.
  • Carotid Artery Intimal Thickness
    Through a CIMT Neck Ultrasound, calcium deposits, which result in a thickening of the carotid arteries indicate an increased likelihood for heart attack or stroke.
  • Artery Inflammation
    Inflammation is a well-known risk factor for heart attack and cardiovascular disease. Inflammatory markers, which are identified through lab testing will give you a comprehensive picture of the state of inflammation you may have.
The results you receive from these tests will help you to better understand your potential risk for heart attacks which can lead to cardiac arrest. That way, you can begin making necessary lifestyle changes immediately.

If you are concerned about your risk for heart attack, cardiac arrest, or stroke, contact the Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center of Southern California today. Through advanced tests which go beyond the basics of a wellness check, we are dedicated to helping you do your part to prevent heart attack and cardiac arrest. Founder Dr. Allan Kurtz specializes in creating ideal health and longevity plans for patients of all ages. To schedule a consultation contact us today at 818.346.1440