Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the "filmy heartattack," where no one doubts what's happening. But most heartattacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often peopleaffected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before gettinghelp. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening: Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort inthe center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, orthat goes away and comes back. It can feel likeuncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptomscan include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back,neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat,nausea or lightheadedness.As with men, women's most common heart attack symptomis chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat morelikely than men to experience some of the other commonsymptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting,and back or jaw painA HEART ATTACK occurs when blood flow to the heart isblocked.A heart attack is a “CIRCULATION” problem.A blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching asection of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly,the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins todie.WHAT HAPPENS?Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and may includeintense discomfort in the chest or other areas of the upper body,shortness of breath, cold sweats, and/or nausea/vomiting. Moreoften, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days orweeks before a heart attack. Unlike with cardiac arrest, the heartusually does not stop beating during a heart attack. The longerthe person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.The heart attack symptoms in women can be different thanmen (shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jawpain).What is cardiac arrest?Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person whomay or may not have diagnosed heart disease. The time andmode of death are unexpected. It occurs instantly or shortly aftersymptoms appear.CARDIAC ARREST occurs when the heart malfunctions andstops beating unexpectedly.Cardiac arrest is an “ELECTRICAL” problem.Cardiac arrest is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heartthat causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). With its pumpingaction disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungsand other organs.WHAT HAPPENSSeconds later, a person becomes unresponsive, is not breathingor is only gasping. Death occurs within minutes if the victimdoes not receive treatment.Is a heart attack the same as cardiac arrest?No. The term "heart attack" is often mistakenly used to describecardiac arrest. While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest andsudden death, the terms don't mean the same thing. Heart attacksare caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. Aheart attack (or myocardial infarction) refers to death of heartmuscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply, not necessarilyresulting in the death of the heart attack victim.Cardiac arrest is caused when the heart's electrical systemmalfunctions. In cardiac arrest death results when the heartsuddenly stops working properly. This may be caused byabnormal, or irregular, heart rhythms (calledarrhythmias). A common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation.This is when the heart's lower chambers suddenly start beatingchaotically and don't pump blood. Death occurs within minutesafter the heart stops. Cardiac arrest may be reversedif CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is performed and adefibrillator is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heartrhythm within a few minutes.People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are notsynonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart isblocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctionsand suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a“circulation” problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical”problem.What is a heart attack?A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-richblood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery isnot reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished bythat artery begins to die. The longer a person goes withouttreatment, the greater the damage.Symptoms of a heartattack may be immediate and intense. More often, though,symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks beforea heart attack. Unlike with sudden cardiac arrest, the heart usuallydoes not stop beating during a heart attack. The heart attacksymptoms in women can be different than men.What is cardiac arrest?Sudden cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and often without warning.It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causesan irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). With its pumping actiondisrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs andother organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness andhas no pulse. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does notreceive treatmentWhat is the link?These two distinct heart conditions are linked. Sudden cardiacarrest can occur after a heart attack, or during recovery. Heartattacks increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Most heartattacks do not lead to sudden cardiac arrest. But when suddencardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause. Other heartconditions may also disrupt the heart’s rhythm and lead to suddencardiac arrest. These include a thickened heart muscle(cardiomyopathy), heart failure, arrhythmias, particularly ventricularfibrillation, and long Q-T syndrome.