Difference Between Heart attack and Stroke

Heart attack vs Stroke

Heart attack is named as MYOCARDIAL infarction in the medical field. The heart is the pump which circulates the blood though out the body. It works continuously. Heart has special cardiac muscles which can rhythmically contract and relax. As like other organs, heart needs the fuel (fatty acids) and oxygen for its work. The coronary arteries (right and left) will give the blood supply to the heart. When the coronary arteries are obstructed by cholesterol deposition or platelet deposition (called plaque) the blood supply will be less. Then the heart muscle will be deprived of oxygen and fuel (fatty acids to burn). When the ischemia (oxygen deprivation) is critical, the heart muscles die (infarct). Unlike other muscles, heart muscles cannot be reproduced again. The dead muscles become fibre tissue. If the extend of the muscles affected is high enough, the immediate death can happen. This is called heart attack is lay terms.

Heart attack has many risk factors. Hypertension (Increased blood pressure) increases the risk. High cholesterol also increases the risk of developing heart attack. The uncontrolled diabetic patients are at high risk. If a person has strong family history, then also the heart attack risk is high. The heart attack will cause severe chest pain (usually on the left side), sweating and sometimes pain in the left arm. In case of these symptoms, the patient should be taken to the emergency department immediately. The drugs can be given under the tongue (TNT) and aspirin can be given before sending to hospital.

Stroke is a disease that occurs in the brain. Usually brain death occurs due to ischemia (lack of oxygen supply) or haemorrhage (blood vessel burst and bled in the brain). Brain tissue depends on the glucose. Brain needs the continuous supply of glucose and oxygen otherwise it will die. Like cardiac muscles, brain cells also cannot be reproduced, Brain is in charge for the body function, especially muscle function, speech, vision, sensation, and so on. Depending on the side of the brain damage the symptoms may vary. Usually the muscles will paralyse on the opposite side of the brain damage. Ordinary people think of the stroke as muscle paralyse in the body. But actual damage is in the brain. As bleeding also causes brain damage, aspirin is contra indicated till the cause is certain. If the damage occur in the brain which control the vital function like respiration, or the brain herniated and compress the brain stem, immediate death will occur.

In summary,

  • Heart attack and stroke are severe life threatening conditions, which can increase due to high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Both heart attack and stroke can occur by blockage of the blood supply (ischemia).
  • Lowering the cholesterol, stop smoking, controlling diabetes and controlling the blood pressure will help to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Heart attack affects the heart muscles. Stroke affects the brain. Aspirin can be used in heart attack, but in stroke it is not advisable until bleeding inside the brain is excluded.
  • In heart attack immediate death can happen, but stoke usually will result in muscle paralysis.