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How to differentiate heart attack and stroke?


Posted on : 15/May/2019 16:32:51

Generally, the two most threatening medical emergencies are heart attack and stroke. The two are often confused between each other. However it is necessary to understand that the two are totally different medical conditions. It is always good that an individual identifies these medical conditions at the earliest so that quick remedy measures can be taken and recovery can be obtained sooner. For this, one needs to have proper understanding of either of the medical conditions. Read on to know the difference and differences in their respective symptoms

Heart attack

Heart attack is also called myocardial infraction (MI). This is a condition that happens in the body as a result of hindered or blocked blood flow in the coronary arteries. This may stop the blood flow to the heart or hinder the same.

What are coronary arteries? These are arteries that take blood flow to the heart muscle. In case of cholesterol build up due to eventual fat accumulation, the arteries become narrowed down. Such deposits of fat is called plaque. This is a condition occurring within the arteries for years. In case the plaque gets broken into the arteries, there will be blood clot inside which will hinder blood flow from reaching the heart.

As the condition occurs, there is not enough oxygen taken to the heart muscles. Eventually, there is blockage in the heart and demands immediate treatment. Here, the affected tissues will start replacing healthy tissues. As the heart muscles get damaged because of insufficient oxygen, it gives rise to heart attack.


Stroke is a condition where there is low blood supply taken to the brain. This will cause stoppage of brain tissue functioning and it will not receive the required amount of oxygen out of essential nutrients. This condition results out of either breakage or bursting of blood vessels that carry blood flow to the brain.

When the brain cell does not receive enough amount of oxygen, they start to die within minutes.

At times, there may also be temporary clots which results in ischemic attack or it is also better known as mini stroke.

Symptoms of heart attack

Generally, the symptoms for heart attack and stroke are quite similar. But there are a few notable differences with which you can identify the two.

Chest pain, discomfort in the upper body or chest, radiation of pain through the chest traveling down to the left arm, breathlessness, cold sweat, extreme tiredness, nausea, dizziness, etc. are some of the most common symptoms.

These symptoms may vary from one person to the other. In fact, heart attack is not symptomatic in a few individuals. It is called silent heart attack. It is not that all heart attacks come with chest pain or discomfort or pressure felt on chest.

Heart attack symptoms in women

In women, the symptoms may slightly vary as compared to men. And women may feel sudden weakness, breath shortness, body pain, issues with sleeping, nausea, vomit, indigestion, etc.

Whatever is the concerning issue, it is ideal that you consult with a doctor without any kind of delay

Coming on to stroke, the symptom totally depends on the kind of brain region that is affected. Based on the region, the functioning, memory, speech or muscle control will vary.

Some of the common symptoms of stroke are

         Numbness or weakened feeling around face and legs and arms, especially in one part of the body

         Confused or hindered speech and understanding of speech

         Difficulty in walking a distance, dizzy feel, improper balance and coordination issues

         Difficulty in seeing either with one or both eyes

         Experience severe headache along with vomiting sensation or dizziness