What are the Differences between Respiratory Arrest and Cardiac Arrest?

The term 'arrest' is often used medically to describe a condition where something that should be happening has stopped. Though doctors use these terms, they can confuse patients or laypeople. Between respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest, which one is more alarming? Is there a difference between these two?

Read along and understand these two terms better as we differentiate respiratory and cardiac arrest.

What is a respiratory arrest?

Respiratory arrest is when a person stops breathing as their lungs fail to contract effectively. It prevents the body from delivering oxygen to the body, including the brain causing the person to lose consciousness.

It is caused by apnea (cessation of breathing) or respiratory dysfunction severe enough that it will not sustain the body (such as agonal breathing). It often occurs simultaneously as cardiac arrest, but not always.

In the context of advanced cardiovascular life support, however, a respiratory arrest is a state in which a patient stops breathing but maintains a pulse. It can occur when breathing is ineffective, such as agonal gasping.

What is a cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not has been diagnosed with heart disease. It can come on suddenly or in the wake of other symptoms. It is often fatal if appropriate steps aren’t taken immediately.

“Heart attack” is often mistakenly used to describe cardiac arrest. While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest, the two aren't the same. In cardiac arrest, death can result quickly if proper steps aren’t taken immediately. It may be caused by irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias.

What are the differences between respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest?

Between respiratory and cardiac arrest, the only difference is the pulse. Breathing stops during a respiratory arrest, while during cardiac arrest, blood flow stops. Technically, cardiac arrest means that the heart has stopped beating, but it's assessed by the fact that blood flow is no longer detectable, even if the heart might still be trying to beat.

In both respiratory and cardiac arrest, the patient will be unconscious and not breathing. However, respiratory arrest patients still have a beating heart pushing blood around the body while cardiac arrest patients do not.

How to tell the difference between respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest are two conditions that are similar to each other as they cause the patient to lose consciousness.

Cardiac arrest is when the heart does not contract properly, resulting in loss of oxygenated blood throughout the body. Respiratory arrest is when a person stops breathing, causing a lack of oxygen in the brain.

Without fancy equipment, the only way to tell if the blood has stopped flowing is to feel for a pulse. It's not a perfect procedure, and there's a possibility of getting it wrong. When the patient doesn't have a pulse, rescuers take longer to find it. As far as CPR is concerned, you should treat respiratory and cardiac arrest the same way.

NOTE
: Call 911 and push on the chest.

Are respiratory and cardiac arrests linked?

Cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest go hand-in-hand, with one either causing or is caused by the other. These two conditions are absolutely linked.

A respiratory arrest will always lead to cardiac arrest if nothing is done to treat it. The person can go into cardiac arrest within minutes of respiratory arrest. A person who has undergone respiratory arrest should be provided cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or artificial ventilation (if available).

Cardiac arrest, on the other hand, means the heart is no longer moving blood through the body. It might be beating or not, but either way, there isn't any blood pulsing around. When blood supply stops, the brain shuts down, including its respiratory centre. The person stops breathing as the heart no longer pumps.

Where can I find online training courses for respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest?

The Mandatory Training Group is the leading UK provider of accredited training courses for respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest for all sectors, including health and social care, education, local government, private companies, charitable and third sector organisations.

Alternatively, you can contact our helpful Support Team clicking here to tell us your training courses for respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest.

Online training courses for respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest

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Differentiate Respiratory Arrest and Cardiac Arrest - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

What are the Differences between Respiratory Arrest and Cardiac Arrest? - The Mandatory Training Group UK.

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