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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.
Heart attack symptoms are varied and can present themselves differently in women than they do in men. Common symptoms include:
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.