Both are medical emergencies, but what are the important differences between the two?
Heart attacks and strokes are two of the most common cardiovascular diseases in Australia and claim many lives each year. There are differences between a heart attack and a stroke and knowing them may make you feel better prepared to care for an affected loved-one or spot the warning signs.
Also called a myocardial infarction, a heart attack is when the blood flow to the heart itself is blocked by a blood clot. The blockage means that the heart is unable to get the oxygen it needs to work properly, meaning that it’s harder for the heart to pump blood around the rest of the body. If left untreated, the heart tissue that has been cut off from blood begins to die.
Women and men can have different symptoms when having a heart attack. According to the experts at House Call Doctor, most women do not immediately have chest or arm pain when having a heart attack and a lack of awareness about atypical symptoms leads to many women not seeking early treatment.
If you or someone you know are experiencing the following symptoms, contact emergency services.
Bypass surgery may need to be done to restore blood flow. Cardiac rehabilitation, blood medications, and lifestyle changes may also be recommended to treat complications and prevent another heart attack.
Stoke can have more severe and damaging effects than a heart attack if treatment is not sought quickly. A stroke is caused when there is a disruption of the blood supply and oxygen to the brain. This disruption can be a clot, but it can also be cause by a rupture in a brain’s blood vessel.
Like a heart attack, the lack of oxygen causes the brain tissue to start to die if the blood supply is not restored. This can cause permanent brain damage. Seeking medical treatment early is vital to minimising brain damage.
Signs of a stroke include:
Early treatment of clot reducing medication can minimise brain damage. Other treatment focuses on limiting complications and preventing future strokes.
Because a stroke can have a large impact on the brain, treatments can include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Blood thinners and similar medications may also be prescribed along with physical exercise and cardiac monitoring to prevent more strokes.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately by calling 000.
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