Strokes vs Heart attacks

Stroke illustration

heart attack illustration

Strokes and heart attacks are both serious medical emergencies, but they affect different parts of the body. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked, while a heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is obstructed. This interruption of blood supply starves vital tissues of oxygen, leading to rapid cell death. Recognizing their distinct symptoms and getting immediate medical help is crucial for both conditions to improve the chances of survival and minimize damage.

What is a Stroke?

  • A stroke is often called a “brain attack.”
  • It occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted, cutting off oxygen and nutrients.
  • Brain cells start dying within minutes, which can lead to disability or death.

Types of Strokes

  • Ischemic stroke: The most common type, caused by a blood clot blocking an artery in the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: A blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures.

What is a Heart Attack?

  • A heart attack (myocardial infarction) happens when blood flow to a part of the heart muscle is blocked.
  • This is usually caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries, which may rupture and form a clot, cutting off the heart’s oxygen supply.
  • Without oxygen, heart muscle cells begin to die.

How Strokes and Heart Attacks Differ

FeatureStrokeHeart Attack
CauseBlocked or ruptured blood vessels in the brainBlocked blood vessels supplying the heart
Main SymptomsSudden numbness/weakness (often on one side of the body), confusion, trouble speaking, vision problems, dizziness, severe headacheChest pain/pressure, shortness of breath, pain radiating to the jaw, neck, shoulder or arm, nausea, cold sweat

Important Notes:

  • Time is critical: With both strokes and heart attacks, getting immediate medical attention is crucial to minimize damage and increase chances of survival.
  • Know the signs: Learn to recognize the symptoms and call emergency services immediately if you suspect a stroke or heart attack.

Remember the acronym FAST for Stroke Symptoms:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 9-1-1

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