Help and support Frequently Asked Questions about Heart Disease Frequently Asked Questions Is a heart attack the same as a cardiac arrest? No, they are not the same. The easiest way to describe the difference is that a heart attack is a plumbing problem and cardiac arrest is an electrical problem. Both are severe, but a heart attack is where the coronary arteries are blocked and caused death of cardiac muscle, a cardiac arrest is where the conduction cycle of the heart is interrupted or stops functioning, resulting in the heart stopping beating. Does everyone recover at the same speed after a heart attack? There are many factors that can affect the speed in which someone recovers from a cardiac event. Some of these include the type of procedure used for treatment, the patient’s physical capacity before the event. Why does smoking affect heart disease? Smoking has many effects on the cardiovascular system as well as the respiratory system. Smoking is responsible for raised blood pressure and heart rate, increases the viscosity of the blood which results in greater clotting, and reduces oxygen available in the blood. Why am I on statins if my cholesterol is low? This is a question we get asked quite frequently and patients often tell us it is a conversation they have with their doctor. So, statins are lipid-lowering drugs, used to help bring down levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, and it does this by inhibiting protein synthesis. The reason you are taking statins after a cardiac event or if your cholesterol is high is because the lower the rate in which atherosclerosis forms; the lower the LDL cholesterol, the less likely it is to oxidise and damage a coronary artery. You may have a low cholesterol, but once you stop taking them your cholesterol synthesis will return to normal, taking your cholesterol in to the higher ranges.