What are the main symptoms of a stroke and a heart attack?


  • 07 October 2021 09:26:24
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The symptoms of a stroke and heart attack can occur very suddenly and can sometimes be fairly similar. However, being able to distinguish the difference between the main symptoms of a stroke and a heart attack can be crucial in the event of a medical emergency.


According to Medical News Today, a heart attack, otherwise known as myocardial infarction, occurs when the body reduces or blocks blood flow to a coronary artery, which in turn can prevent the flow of blood to the heart. A stroke, on the other hand, is when blood supply to the brain is reduced significantly and stops the brain tissue from receiving oxygen and other essential nutrients.


Per Healthline, the symptoms of a stroke and heart attack can vary depending on a person's age, gender, overall health, and severity of the episode. Although some symptoms of a stroke and heart attack are similar — for instance, sudden weakness in the body — the main symptoms for each condition are actually quite different.


What are the main symptoms of a stroke and a heart attack?


According to Medical News Today, some of the most common symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, upper body discomfort, pain that radiates down the left arm, cold sweats, tiredness, nausea, shortness of breath, and dizziness. 


In contrast, the most common symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness in the face and other areas of the body, including the arm and leg; sudden difficulty walking; loss of balance or coordination; confusion; difficulty speaking or understanding speech; difficulty seeing in one or both eyes; a sudden severe headache; vomiting; and altered consciousness. The American Stroke Association suggest people remember the acronym FAST to help recognize the main symptoms of a stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911.


Per Healthline, both a heart attack and stroke can be prevented by making sure your cholesterol and blood pressure levels are within a healthy range, by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol intake, keeping blood sugar under control, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium.


Although you can make lifestyle changes to help reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke, some risk factors, including age and family health history, unfortunately cannot be controlled. 


The Real Reason You're Having Chest Pains


There can be numerous reasons you are experiencing chest pains. Maybe you are stressed and having a panic attack? Or perhaps it could be something more serious like an episode with your heart. Depending on if you are a man or woman, the symptoms and reasons behind chest pains can differ. However, chest pains are never to be ignored (via Memorial Heights). In many cases, the pains could be related to your heart, lungs, esophagus, muscles, or ribs. While you may find it easier to Google your symptoms, it is always best to have a professional evaluate you.


It's important to note that chest pain can be felt anywhere from your neck to the upper abdomen, which could mimic a stabbing or sharp pain (via Healthline). One of the main concerns when it comes to chest pains is, are you experiencing a heart attack? If you feel a tightness in your chest, aches in your jaw or arms, or shortness of breath, these could all be signs you need to go to the hospital. The American Heart Association also points out that while these signs are common for both men and women, many women will also experience shortness of breath and back pain.


More common causes for chest pains


While chest pains should never be taken lightly, there are more common causes for the discomfort that are distinguishable from something more severe. The Cleveland Clinic shared three forms of common chest pains, which are usually not a sign of a heart attack, such as fleeting pain, pinpoint discomfort, and pain that gets better with exercise.


Believe it or not, indigestion is a big cause of chest pain. No one wants to admit that they may not be able to eat five-alarm chili anymore, but it happens, and heartburn can often feel like a heart attack. According to Better Health, indigestion is when stomach acid is coming up the esophagus, which is more commonly known as acid reflux. All that is usually needed to stop the reflux is changing your diet and staying away from acidic foods. Another common cause could be a bad chest infection like bronchitis or pneumonia. You may need an X-ray to be diagnosed, but doctors would be able to treat the infection and help you feel better.