Learn the Symptoms of a Cardiac Arrest

Find out about the symptoms of a cardiac arrest so that you know how to avoid it. Remember, your health always comes first.
Learn the Symptoms of a Cardiac Arrest
José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli

Reviewed and approved by the doctor José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Your health is no small matter. Therefore, it’s important to know what the symptoms of cardiac arrest are so that you know how to act in case they occur.

In addition, if you learn how to detect them, you can help doctors gather valuable information about what’s happening and what to look out for.

What’s a Cardiac Arrest?

First of all, and before looking at the previous symptoms of cardiac arrest, we must remember what it is. A cardiac arrest is the discomfort that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating.

When this situation occurs, blood stops reaching the brain and, as a consequence, the body stops. However, you should keep in mind that it’s not exactly the same as a heart attack or infarction. In this case, the heart usually beats but with a lower blood flow due to a blocked artery.

Symptoms of a Cardiac Arrest

1. Breathing Difficulties

An overweight man clutching his chest.

This is known scientifically as dyspnoea and is a symptom that occurs more commonly in women. It may not necessarily be something immediate. It could appear even months before you actually suffer a cardiac arrest.

The unequivocal symptom is generally when it’s accompanied by great fatigue. So, if you feel exhausted for no reason, go to your doctor as soon as possible.

2. Excessive Sweating

A man excessively sweating which is one of the symptoms of a cardiac arrest

Excessive sweating is another symptom of a possible cardiac arrest. If you’re sweating a lot without doing any exercise if could be a sign that there is a problem with your heart.

If you have obstructed arteries, your heart has to make more effort to pump blood around the body. This translates into more sweating as your body tries to maintain its normal temperature.

3. Indigestion and Vomiting

Although there might not appear to be a relationship between a cardiac arrest and digestive problems, there certainly is. Often, cardiac arrests are preceded by digestive problems such as nausea and vomiting.

It’s very difficult to say for sure that vomiting or nausea is definitely a symptom of a coronary problem, but if you normally have an iron stomach and haven’t eaten anything unusual, be careful as this could be a serious problem.

4. Chest Pains

This one of most common and easily recognised symptoms of a cardiac arrest. However, you need to bear in mind that a cardiac arrest doesn’t always come with chest pains.

As indicated by the Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine in this article, when patients feel chest pain, they should be transferred to a hospital center where they can be properly evaluated and assisted with specific treatment.

In any case, chest pain (angina pectoris) is usually an easy symptom to recognize. To identify it, it’s a type of pain that is felt as an intense pressure in the chest and may drift into the arms and shoulders.

However, chest pain doesn’t only imply cardiac arrest; it may be associated with other pathologies, so medical auscultation is essential.

5. Pain in the Back and Jaw

If you’re about to go into cardiac arrest, you’ll also notice pain in your back and jaw. These symptoms seem to occur more frequently in women than men. If you suddenly start feeling these symptoms, go straight to your doctor.

A man suffering from back pain

6. Dizziness

Dizziness can also be a symptom of a cardiac arrest. Normally this can get progressively worse. The person loses their balance and feels overwhelmed.

Therefore, it’s important to stay calm and not make any sudden movements.


If you notice any of these symptoms and they’re not related to anything else you know of, like stomach problems, stress, etc., go to your doctor to determine the cause.
Prevention is key for detecting a possible heart problem. Among the healthy habits indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent cardiovascular and cerebrovascular accidents are following a healthy diet, not smoking, exercising, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.

If you know the symptoms and detect them, you can prevent something as serious as cardiac arrest, one of the leading causes of death in the world. Take note of these signals that the body sends you and it will be easier for you.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Grupo de Trabajo SEMES-Insalud. Dolor torácico agudo no traumático. Emergencias 2000;13:66-71
  • Mª Lourdes Vicent Alamino. Sobrevivir a un paro cardiaco: una cuestión de años. Sociedad Española de Cardiología. 18 mayo 2015 | Cardiología Hoy.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Heart attack.
  • MedlinePlus. Paro Cardíaco. NIH: Instituto Nacional del Corazón, los Pulmones y la Sangre.
  • Organizacion Mundial de la Salud. (2005). Evite los infartos de miocardio y los accidentes cerebrovasculares No sea una víctima. OMS.
  • Ornato, J. P., & Hand, M. M. (2001). Warning signs of a heart attack. Circulation104(11), 1212–1213.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.