Similarities and Differences Between Stroke and Heart Attack

Similarities and Differences Between Stroke and Heart Attack

Many people use the terms of heart attack and stroke interchangeably.  While there are some similarities, the two are very different.  A heart attack occurs when blood flow to any part of the heart is blocked.  This causes the heart muscle to die due to a lack of oxygen.  A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off, thus leaving the brain without adequate oxygen.  Heart attacks and strokes look different in different people.  However, they are both serious medical conditions that require prompt treatment.

Heart attack and stroke both have many of the same risk factors.  These risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, lack of physical exercise, and family history.  While they have similar symptoms, the signs of stroke and heart attack do differ.  A heart attack is unique in that it may have symptoms or no symptoms at all.  If symptoms are present, the patient will experience chest pain that radiates down the arm, shortness of breath, sweating, lightheadedness, or nausea.  If a person is experiencing a stroke, they may include facial drooping, arm weakness, and difficulty speaking.

Regardless of whether a person is experiencing a stroke or a heart attack, time is of the essence.  Typically, the quicker someone is able to recognize the signs of a stroke or heart attack and get treatment, the more likely they are to have a positive recovery.  Stroke and heart attacks are different, but both are serious medical conditions that could leave a person disabled after the occurrence.  Both stroke and heart attacks tend to have a sudden onset.  There are typically no warning signs in the days, weeks, or months before they occur.  They both require professional medical treatment since death can occur if the stroke or heart attack is bad enough, and no medical treatment is given.

A heart attack is more common than stroke and is the leading cause of death in the United States.  Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death.  While they can typically happen to a person of any age, they are more likely to occur in those who are older in age. For those patients suffering from a stroke, treatment typically involves opening the blocked heart valve with a stent.  With a stroke, treatment involves opening the blockage or controlling blood pressure and bleeding depending on the cause.  Regardless, many patients who undergo a stroke or heart attack even with treatment, are left with some kind of lasting ailment such as long term disability.

Heart attack and stroke are a relatively common occurrence now that people are living longer.  Treating these issues as soon as possible is key to giving the patient their best chance at making a full recovery.  However, despite everyone’s best efforts, many patients who experience a heart attack or stroke will end up with some kind of lasting disability.  There is hope that one-day stem cell therapy may be able to help repair this damage and help restore a better quality of life to the patients and their families.

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