Truck Driver Heart Health Watch:

The Difference Between Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – that’s one in every four deaths. Truck drivers, in particular, are at an increased risk of heart disease.

Truck drivers are especially at risk due to the demanding aspects of their jobs. Often, truck drivers sit for long hours at a time, don’t get enough sleep or exercise, and have a poor diet—all on top of facing high levels of stress. This combination has a significant and negative effect on the heart. In addition, furthering the stress on the heart is the fact that 7 in 10 truck drivers are obese* – just one more factor that increases the chance of heart disease.

For truck drivers especially, it’s critical to understand your own health issues and risks. OHC believes prevention is better than a cure. It’s important for truck drivers to maintain healthy heart habits, and part of having healthy habits is getting annual health exams.

Cardiac arrest and heart attack are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing and knowing the difference between the two can potentially be life-saving.

Do you know the difference between them?


Cardiac arrest is an “Electrical” problem. It occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly causing an irregular heartbeat (or arrythmia). When the hearts pumping action is disrupted, it cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs or other organs.

When cardiac arrest occurs, a person becomes unresponsive, is not breathing or is only gasping. Death can occur within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.

Cardiac arrest can be reversible in some victims if it’s treated within a few minutes. First, call 9-1-1 and start CPR right away. Then, if an (AED) is available, use it as soon as possible. If two people are available to help, one should begin CPR immediately while the other calls 9-1-1 and finds an AED.

Fast action can save lives.



A heart attack, on the other hand, is a “circulation” issue. It occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die.

This infographic from the American Heart Association breaks it down:

Truck Driver Heart Health


Related links

Heart Disease: Major Health Concern for Truck Drivers

Truck Driver Heart Disease Risk Factors