Categories: CardiologyStroke

Heart Attack vs Stroke – What’s the difference?

Heart Attack vs Stroke – What’s the difference?

Heart attacks and strokes are serious health conditions that require immediate medical attention. These conditions can occur suddenly and knowing the difference between the two is very important.

In simple words, both conditions are the direct results of inadequate blood flow to the critical body parts. The blockage of blood flow to the brain causes stroke while the blockage of blood to the heart causes a heart attack. The treatment modality for both these conditions differs and receiving immediate assistance determines the difference between survival, recovery or severe damage (even death) for a patient.

What is a Stroke?

Stroke is a serious condition that occurs when the blood flow is disrupted from reaching the brain. It is caused by either blockage or lacerated blood vessels in the brain, and in both scenarios, the brain tissues begin to die as they are denied with much-needed oxygen for their functioning.

Symptoms of a Stroke:

  • Unexpected dizziness or loss of balance
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Severe headache
  • Uncommon blurriness in one or both the eyes
  • Problems in speaking or understanding communication

Remembering all the stroke symptoms can be confusing or difficult. That’s why always recall the term FAST.

F – Facial Drooping

A – Arm Weakness

S – Speech Difficulties

T – Time to call the emergency services

Identifying these three key symptoms along with timely medical help will determine the damage and key to recovery from a stroke. Making an accurate note of the time when the symptoms appear can help the medical personnel administer the right treatment.

What is a Heart Attack?

Heart Attack is a damage in the heart due to the disruption of blood flow. The disruption is caused by the building of plaque in the arteries . This build-up makes the blood flow to the heart harder over time which leads to damage or failed heart muscles. This condition is called Coronary Artery Disease, which is one of the major reasons for heart attacks. As the brain cells don’t get oxygen during a stroke, even a heart muscle begins to die when it doesn’t get oxygen. At this stage, it’s very essential to restart the blood and oxygen to the heart to avert any further damage to the heart.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack:

The symptoms of a heart attack may usually build-up over a period of time (hours or even days) or occur suddenly. The common symptoms are:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Unexplained pain in arm or shoulders
  • Unexplained pain in back, neck or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness, dizziness , and fainting

Usually, these symptoms are accompanied by vomiting, nausea and unusual tiredness. If you suspect or see someone having a heart attack, call the emergency services. Administer CPR or use a defibrillator if available.

Prevention is the key

The immediate medical response is the key here, moreover, preventing it in the first place is even better. Both stroke and heart attack can be averted by preventing it’s risk factors like smoking, obesity , sedentary lifestyle and stress. Genetics, age and other factors play a secondary role. Adopting a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy, exercising and refraining from smoking are the best ways to reduce the chances of a stroke or heart attack.

Dr. Harish AH, Consultant Neurology, Sahyadri Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Shimoga

Narayana Health

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