Heart attack vs. cardiac arrest: What’s the difference?


Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remained in critical condition Tuesday night after his heart stopped beating during a game in Cincinnati Monday.

The Bills say Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest, which is different than a heart attack. 

A heart attack is related to circulation — when blood can no longer get to the heart.

Cardiac arrest is an electrical malfunction where the heart suddenly stops beating properly.

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One of the theories that is spreading is that Hamlin suffered commotio cordis. 

Dr. Charles Henrikson, who specializes in heart rhythm dysfunction at Oregon Health & Science University, says it is “a blunt hit to the chest that, if it’s timed just right, can put you into a bad rhythm.” 

It’s also possible Hamlin had a pre-existing condition, but it’s not clear if that was the case.


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