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Heart attacks and strokes both occur when blood flow is blocked to a crucial organ, and both are serious emergencies that require immediate medical attention. But do you know the differences between them? Recognizing the signs of a stroke or heart attack quickly can mean the difference between life and death. Read on to learn the difference between a heart attack and stroke.
A stroke occurs when blood flow is disrupted from reaching the brain, typically caused by a blockage or ruptured blood vessel in the brain. This impedes the brain's supply of oxygen, without which brain cells begin to die quickly. Recognizing and treating a stroke immediately is crucial for survival and recovery, as even a surviving patient can experience brain damage from a stroke.
Stroke symptoms include the following:
The mnemonic BEFAST is a great way to recognize a stroke quickly:
A heart attack occurs when blood flow is disrupted from reaching the heart, due to a blockage in the arteries from plaque that has built up over time. This impedes the heart's supply of oxygen, which damages the heart.
Coronary artery disease, the long-term buildup of plaque in the arteries, forces the heart to pump harder by restricting blood flow, which can also weaken or damage the heart. Plaque can also cause a heart attack by rupturing and forming a clot that blocks blood flow.
These are the heart attack symptoms you're probably most familiar with, but they may be more common in men. Symptoms more common in women can include:
Symptoms of a heart attack in women may last for a longer period of time than in men. Sometimes heart attack symptoms are mistaken for heartburn, angina (chest pain), a gallbladder attack, or other conditions, and this is particularly true for heart attacks in women. Be aware of these symptoms, and seek medical attention for them.