What is a cardiac arrest?
A cardiac arrest is also known as cardiopulmonary arrest or circulatory arrest.
It happens when the heart stops pumping blood around the body because of a disturbance in the normal heart rhythm.
The most common life threatening disturbance of the heart rhythm is called ventricular fibrillation.
Cardiac arrest and heart attack
A cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack
If you have a heart attack, you do not always experience the life threatening rhythms that lead to a cardiac arrest. There are many causes of cardiac arrest and it is not always because of an existing heart condition.
If a person has a cardiac arrest, they lose consciousness almost at once.
There are also no other signs of life such as breathing. This is the most extreme emergency.
Rescue breathing (inflating the lungs by using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation), and
Chest compression (pumping the heart by external cardiac massage), to keep the breathing and circulation going until the ambulance arrives.