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Lisa Marie Presley death: Difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest

  • Lisa Marie Presley has died, aged 54, after reportedly suffering a cardiac arrest

  • The singer had been “rushed” for medical treatment earlier the same day

  • There is some confusion about how a cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack. A heart attack is when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked, whereas in a cardiac arrest the heart stops beating

  • Read on to find out more about the differences between a heart attack and cardiac arrest and what to do if you suspect someone is suffering from either

Watch: Lisa Marie Presley, only child of Elvis, dies aged 54

Lisa Marie Presley, the singer and only child of Elvis, has died at the age of 54, after reportedly suffering from a cardiac arrest.

In a statement, the Presley family said they were “shocked and devastated” by the news, which was announced on Thursday.

The US singer-songwriter was “rushed” for medical treatment earlier the same day, though no further details were made immediately available.

But a statement, shared with the PA news agency a short while later, read: “Priscilla Presley and the Presley family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Lisa Marie.

“They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”

The singer's death comes shortly after Presley attended the 80th annual Golden Globe awards on Tuesday.

Read more: A 10-minute walk a day 'reduces risk of heart attack or stroke'

Lisa Marie Presley has died after reportedly suffering from a cardiac arrest. (Getty Images)
Lisa Marie Presley, photographed at the Golden Globes in the US on Tuesday evening, has died after reportedly suffering from a cardiac arrest. (Getty Images)

What is the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest?

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) a heart attack is when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked.

The heart muscle is robbed of its vital blood supply and, if left untreated, will begin to die because it is not getting enough oxygen.

Whilst the early signs of a heart attack can vary, the most common, according to the NHS, include squeezing across the chest which may be painful, sweating and a feeling of unease. The person suffering a heart attack will be conscious and breathing.

On the other hand a cardiac arrest is when a person's heart stops pumping blood around their body and they stop breathing normally.

In an explainer video about the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest the BHF says this is usually because the electrical signals in your heart have gone wrong.

It typically occurs suddenly and without warning with the person quickly losing consciousness. Their heart stops, they will have no pulse and sadly people experiencing a cardiac arrest will usually die within minutes if they do not receive treatment.

A heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest, with many cardiac arrests in adults happening because of a heart attack.

The BHF says this is because a person who is having a heart attack may develop a dangerous heart rhythm, which can cause a cardiac arrest.

Read more: Mum who had a heart attack aged 45 warns women to look out for the symptoms she ignored

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16:  Lisa Marie Presley arrives at ELLE's 24th Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on October 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Lisa Marie Presley arrives at ELLE's 24th Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration in LA in 2017. (Getty Images)

Dr Andre Brittain-Dissont says there is often some confusion about the differences between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack.

"A heart attack is when the arteries supplying the heart muscle are blocked and no blood or oxygen can reach the heart muscle and the muscle starts dying," he further clarifies.

"This is normally very painful and classically it is the clutching of the chest moment but not always as a heart attack can also be silent without symptoms."

Dr Brittain-Dissont says a very severe heart attack can cause a cardiac arrest but many other conditions can cause a cardiac arrest too.

"Cardiac arrest is when the heart has stopped beating," he explains. "The heart still beats during a heart attack but in cardiac arrest there is no meaningful output from the pump action of the heart and death follows quickly and inevitably without intervention from an electric shock or specifically treating the cause of the cardiac arrest (normally an electrical failure in the circuits that regulate contraction of the heart muscle or a massive loss in blood volume or severe pressure changes in the chest)."

An ECG is another effective way to tell the difference between the two.

"If you saw an ECG of a heart attack it would show the heart beating but a heart that was struggling," Dr Brittain-Dissont attds.

"The ECG in cardiac arrest is a flatline."

Read more: Grandad has 'body of 25 year old' after heart attack-inspired health kick

Both a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are emergency situations and you should immediately call 999. (Getty Images)
Both a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are emergency situations and you should immediately call 999. (Getty Images)

What to do if someone is suffering from a heart attack or cardiac arrest

The BHF says a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are both emergency situations, which means you should call 999 straight away if you suspect someone is experiencing either.

NHS Scotland has put together some information about what to do in either situation.

What to do if you think someone is having a heart attack

  1. Once you've phoned 999, ask the patient to sit and rest until the ambulance arrives.

  2. If the patient isn't allergic to aspirin and there's some nearby, they can chew 1 tablet (300mg).

  3. Stay with the patient until the ambulance arrives.

  4. When the paramedics arrive, tell them if the patient has taken aspirin.

What to do if you think someone is having a cardiac arrest

  1. Phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if someone stops breathing, loses consciousness or doesn't respond to stimulation.

  2. After you’ve phoned for an ambulance, the call handler will talk you through how to do chest compressions.

  3. If there's more than one person with the patient, someone can collect a defibrillator for the patient if there's one nearby.

Additional reporting PA.