Heart attacks and strokes are fatal medical emergencies and often mistaken for one another. Learn the warning signs of each to know which emergency you may be facing, and seek medical attention immediately.
The sooner a person recognizes a heart attack or stroke, the better their odds of survival and complete recovery. Not getting immediate medical treatment decreases the chances of further heart damage or brain trauma.
There are many signs and symptoms of both heart attacks and strokes. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any pain in the chest, unusual shortness of breath, or dizziness. Some symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke may be the same though.
Learn the differences between the two with the help of this article.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when blood flow to a coronary artery is reduced or blocked by an issue elsewhere in the body. This may block blood flow to the heart.
Coronary arteries provide blood to the heart muscle. If substances (also known as plaque) like fat and cholesterol build up, they can become narrower. Plaque normally develops over a period of a few years. A blood clot can form around plaque fragments that break off in a coronary artery.
This can stop or mess with the natural flow of blood to the heart muscles. If this happens, a part of your heart's muscle will be deprived of oxygen. If the blockage isn’t treated soon enough, that part of the heart begins to die.
EMCARE’s ACLS course helps you understand how you can treat this condition immediately.
Scar tissue begins to replace healthy heart tissue. A heart attack normally takes place when the heart muscle gets damaged or dies, owing to a lack of oxygen and nutrients.
What is a stroke?
A stroke happens when the brain tissue is deprived of oxygen and other critical nutrients due to a lack of blood flow. This can take place when a blood vessel, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain, bursts or gets blocked due to a clot. Any brain cells that aren't getting enough oxygen start to die. This may happen in a matter of a few minutes.
A minor clot can happen to anyone at any moment, which can lead to a non-fatal ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes known as a "mini-stroke”. An aneurysm in the brain is a swelling in an artery that can lead to a rupture. This has the potential to cause a stroke. A stroke and an aneurysm have similar symptoms, but they might need separate treatments.
Although the symptoms of a heart attack and a stroke are identical, there are some key distinctions. Both situations require immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of a heart attackA heart attack's most prevalent symptoms are:
Stroke symptomsThe symptoms of a stroke vary, depending on which section of the brain has been affected. Memory, speech, and muscle control are just a few of the functions that might be affected.
Common symptoms include:
If someone is suspected to suffer from a heart attack or a stroke, the patient must receive medical attention, even before the diagnosis is confirmed. In the past, doctors used to often prescribe aspirin to patients, who suffered a stroke or heart attack. It helps in thinning the blood and also acts as an anti-clotting agent to help prevent blood clots from forming again.
Blood thinners will not be useful if the issue is related to internal bleeding, since they may lead to more severe bleeding, as they do with certain types of stroke. As a result, it is critical for a doctor to give an accurate diagnosis. People who are at high risk of heart attack or stroke may already be taking aspirin on a regular basis, but current recommendations only prescribe it if the risk of bleeding is low.
As a concerned NZ citizen, you can help treat someone who might be suffering from either of the two problems—even if you aren’t a licensed medical professional. Our EMCARE’s ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) course helps individuals learn about cardiac arrest by providing hands-on training on acting promptly.
Treatment for a heart attackCardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is one of the immediate treatments. If the patient stops breathing and their heart stops too, CPR treatment will be immensely helpful, till medical care arrives. It will help restore blood flow to the heart in certain cases. CPR can be given by anyone who’s done a Basic Life Support (BLS) or ACLS course from a professional, who’s verified by the New Zealand Resuscitation Council.
Treatment for a strokeThe kind of treatment will be determined by the type of stroke.
Treatments often include:
Although it may not be always possible to manage all of the causes that lead to a future heart attack or stroke because of erratic lifestyle choices, a person's risk can still be reduced by eating right and exercising regularly.
Here are some helpful tips:
A report by WHO (World Health Organization) shows that ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the top causes of death globally (55% of the deaths). The reasons behind these can vary between hereditary, lifestyle choices or a bit of both.
EMCARE New Zealand cares deeply about people’s health and believes in educating and training individuals to (promptly) respond to such scenarios and save lives.
If you’re interested in attending our ACLS course in NZ then sign up here or give us a call for any suggestions.
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