Stroke vs. Heart Attack

Difference Between Stroke and Heart Attack

 

Heart Attack

Myocardial infarction or simply heart attack is a serious heart condition. The heart, which never ceases to work, is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. The cardiac muscles do this by contracting and relaxing rhythmically. But, like all other organs of the body, a person’s heart needs energy and oxygen to perform its functions. The left and right coronary arteries provide the heart with these supplies through the blood the passes through them.

When these coronary arteries are blocked by platelet deposits (plaque) or cholesterol, the blood supply going through them will consequently be less. Eventually the heart muscles become deprived of much needed oxygen and fatty acids, later on, die. Cardiac muscles, unlike the other muscles in the body, cannot be reproduced. Dead cardiac muscles become fiber tissue and when too much cardiac muscles die, its owner’s death is imminent. This event is what we call a heart attack.

Several factors can increase the risk of getting a heart attack; such as hypertension or high blood pressure and very high cholesterol levels. Diabetics who don’t keep careful watch of their condition are also at high risks of heart attack. You may also want to trace your family history and see if many of your ancestors and kin have experienced heart attacks because if they have, then there is also a strong possibility that you could get it, too.

Heart attack can cause an excruciating pain specifically on the left portion of the chest radiating to the left arm accompanied by profuse sweating.  As these symptoms appear, the patient must be rushed to the hospital immediately.  The patient may be given an Aspirin as a first aid measure before sending him/her to the hospital and some medications can be administered sublingually (under the tongue) to alleviate the condition.

 

Stroke

 

Unlike heart attack, stroke is a condition that transpires in the brain. Death comes due to insufficient oxygen (ischemia) or hemorrhaging when blood vessels rupture, causing bleeding inside the victim’s brain.  The tissues of the brain depend on glucose in order to function. Brain damage will likely occur without a constant glucose and oxygen supply.  Brain cells, like cardiac muscles, cannot regenerate.  The brain is responsible for several body functions including sensory, muscle movement, vision, speech, and others.  The signs and symptoms may differ on which part of the brain has been damaged.  Damage the brain’s left side will cause paralysis on the right side of the body and vice versa.  Most people think that stroke means paralysis of the body alone, not knowing that the condition actually causes damage in the brain.  In addition, bleeding can cause brain damage. And aspirin, which is known to prevent stroke in those at risk, is not administered immediately until the cause of stroke has been figured out.  Sudden death occurs if the damage occurs in the part of the brain that directs the vital function such as respiration, or when the brain protrudes out of the skull cavity causing compression of the brain stem.

 

Important Points to Remember:

 

  • Both stroke and heart attack are life threatening conditions and are more likely to happen to those with high blood pressure or hypertension.
  • Ischemia or the blocking of blood supply can cause stroke and heart attack.
  • Lowering cholesterol intake, not smoking and watching what you eat can greatly reduce the risks of stroke and heart attack.
  • Stroke affects in the brain while a heart attack affects, as the name suggests, the heart.
  • Aspirin may be used as first aid in case of a heart attack, but it’s not advisable in when it comes to stroke; unless there is no internal bleeding involved.
  • Stroke usually causes muscle paralysis, but a heart attack can mean immediate death to the victim.