What are heart failure, heart attack and cardiac arrest?

Story highlights

  • A heart attack is a muscle problem, but sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical problem
  • A heart attack can lead to sudden cardiac death, leaving a patient only minutes to live unless treated

(CNN)Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer around the world. It killed an estimated 17.7 million people in 2015, representing 31% of all deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization.

But not all heart disease is the same. It can affect the blood vessels to the heart or brain, heart muscles and valves, and other areas of the body. Cardiovascular diseases can require long-term treatment, or they can come on suddenly and seriously.
"That's why it's very important for all of us to learn how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.