Heart attack or Stroke: What’s the difference?
The numbers are escalating and it is a cause for concern as more people suffer from cardiovascular diseases in Pakistan. According to Dawn, at least 12 Pakistanis die from a heart attack every hour while the average age of a stroke is 10 years lower in Pakistan than the developed world- currently at 60 years in the subcontinent. One of the main causes for heart attacks and strokes to prove fatal is that they are not detected or differentiated properly, leading to delayed treatment.
According to statistics 91% of all strokes are caused by high blood pressure, physical inactivity, problems in blood lipids, hypertension, smoking, family history, and an inadequate diet. Heart attacks also have similar causes and are also caused by high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. However, while both of these conditions have similar origins, they are different in terms of symptoms and treatment.
The occurrence of a heart attack is related to the blockage of blood flow to the heart, which may be caused by a blood clot. Once the heart does not get oxygenated blood, the heart muscle begins to deteriorate and die. Cholesterol plaque can also cause a heart attack as it may block the artery and causes circulation to slow down or stop altogether.
The symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Pain in the upper left side of your chest
- Pain in your left or both arms or other parts of your body
- Shortness of breath
- Unexpected sweating
- Nausea and continuous vomiting
- Dizziness and feeling lightheaded
Heart attacks and the pain associated with them usually lasts more than a few minutes and the symptoms may slightly differ between men and women. While at times the symptoms may be less evident amongst women, other times they are more severe. For example, some women may experience excessive sweating and unusual levels of fatigue. People experiencing a heart attack may not feel any of these symptoms and may sometimes simply feel an uneasy or queer feeling combined with a feeling of despair.
Surprisingly, 15% of heart patients experience no symptoms and are not aware that they are suffering a heart attack. This makes it all the more important to be more aware of the causes, symptoms, and treatment for heart problems and get immediate help.
A stroke’s main area of attack is the brain and the condition occurs when vital blood flow and oxygen is cut off from the brain, through the clogging or bursting of a blood vessel. It is immensely important to immediately treat a stroke, as delays may cause serious harm and may cause treatment to be ineffective. In order to seek treatment immediately, it is imperative to be able to identify the symptoms of a stroke.
The symptoms of a stroke include:
- Face angled towards one side
- Problematic walking
- One arm or leg feeling exceptionally numb or weak
- Dazed state and temporary memory loss
- Being tongue-tied or slurred speech
- Tongue is physically incapable of movement of one side
- Extremely painful unexpected headache
Again, similar to a heart attack, a stroke may have subtle symptoms for some and it is highly important to identify a person suffering a stroke for immediate medical attention, In order to do so, you may want to hold up both hands of the suspected patient and see if one appears to be weaker than the other- for example, it drops all of a sudden. If such a condition exists, take the suspected patient to a hospital immediately as a stroke may cause permanent brain damage.
As emphasized before, strokes and heart attacks may have similar causes but are very different in terms of symptoms and their subsequent treatment. However, both conditions can cause severe damage to the patient, thus making it essential for care to be exercised in eliminating the causes of both conditions.
If you are facing any of these symptoms, do not wait and consult a Cardiologist online today !