My father had a heart attack in a public place, but he was not treated with an AED. Is sudden cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?

A: Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is not the same thing as a heart attack (myocardial infarction), although a person suffering a heart attack has an increased risk of SCA.

A heart attack is caused by a blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the heart. The muscle in the heart is deprived of oxygen and begins to die. Heart attack victims may experience chest, arm, upper abdomen, or jaw pain as well as weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and/or sweating, but they usually remain conscious and alert. If they receive proper treatment, many people survive heart attacks.

An AED cannot save a heart attack victim and should never be used in a conscious patient with a pulse.

Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by an abnormal heart rhythm. The victim suddenly collapses with no previous symptoms or warning. The victim will be unconscious and unresponsive and have no detectable pulse. Ninety to ninety-five percent of those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest will die unless they receive defibrillation within ten minutes of collapse.

In some cases, AEDs malfunction because of poor maintenance or manufacturing defects. When this occurs victims may be injured or die. Families of AED malfunction victims have the right to file an AED injury lawsuit. To learn more about your rights if you've lost a loved one because of a defective AED, contact The Law Offices of Craig Goldenfarb, P.A. at 1-(561) 600-5605.

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