Signs of Stroke and Heart Attack: An Easy Guide

A sudden and significant reduction in blood flow to the heart muscle is known as a heart attack, while a similar interruption in circulation to the brain is called a stroke. While both events share some similar symptoms, certain signs of a stroke or heart attack are unique and worth knowing about, especially if you or someone close to you is at increased risk for a medical emergency.

In addition to being able to recognize the signs of a stroke or heart attack, it’s critical that you know how to react. While both of these events can be fatal, they can often be treated if the person in crisis gets medical attention right away.

Not all heart attacks start with sudden, severe chest pain. The first signs of a heart attack can develop slowly and can leave you feeling unsure of what’s going on. Also, the symptoms can vary from person to person.

Some common early heart attack symptoms include:

Early stroke symptoms can be even more subtle. The most common warning sign of a stroke is a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a “ministroke”. A TIA can occur hours, days or months before an actual stroke.

The main difference between a TIA and a full stroke, other than the severity of the symptoms, is the difference in imaging (MRI) findings and the duration of the block. Typically a TIA lock is short enough to prevent permanent brain damage.

Typical symptoms of TIA “ministroke” include:

Symptoms of a leakage can often be easier to discern than those of a heart attack🇧🇷 One of the main distinctions is that a stroke tends to cause a sudden and severe neurological symptom, whereas the main symptom of a heart attack is chest pain.

The arms can also be involved, but whereas a heart attack can cause pain in one or both arms (often, but not always, the left arm), a stroke usually leaves a limb or the face weak or numb.

A person having a heart attack can lift both arms despite the pain. A person suffering a stroke may be able to lift one but not both arms.

Symptoms of a stroke or heart attack in women

Symptoms of stroke in people who are assigned female at birth (females) and people who are assigned male at birth (males) are often similar, although one 2018 study suggests that women may also have some of the following atypical signs of a stroke:

  • fainting
  • fatigue
  • incontinence
  • pain
  • general weakness of the body

Women are also more likely to experience atypical heart attack symptoms. In addition to chest pain and shortness of breath — the most common heart attack symptoms for all groups — women often experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • dizziness or fainting
  • pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • back pain
  • flu-like body aches
  • extreme fatigue

Signs of a stroke or heart attack in men

In men, the main symptom of a heart attack reported is chest pain, sometimes described as a feeling of tightness or pressure, as if something heavy were on the chest. Other common heart attack symptoms for men include:

  • upper body pain in the shoulders, neck, or jaw
  • shortness of breathe
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • cold sweat

Common early signs of a stroke include:

  • sudden, severe headache
  • weakness or numbness on one side of the body or face
  • vision problems
  • difficulty speaking or understanding the speech of others

Both a stroke and a heart attack can be fatal, but a full recovery is also possible in many cases. Outcomes depend on the severity of the events and how quickly medical support is provided.

With prompt and effective treatment, successful completion of cardiac rehabilitation, and a healthy lifestyle, a heart attack survivor can live for many years with little memory of the attack.

The prognosis after a stroke can be more difficult to predict. Depending on which part of the brain was damaged by the stroke, there can be lifelong complications, even after prompt treatment and rehabilitation. Some long-term complications include:

  • walking difficulties
  • swallowing problems
  • reduced function of one or both hands
  • incontinence
  • cognitive impairment

ONE 2019 study also notes that post-stroke seizures occur in 5 to 9% of stroke survivors, and mood swings, including depressive symptoms, can occur in up to 70% of stroke survivors.

A 2016 study published in Journal of Physiotherapy Sciences suggests that nearly 89% of first-time stroke survivors may experience one or more of the following complications shortly after the event:

  • urinary tract infection
  • pain in the shoulder
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • musculoskeletal pain other than shoulder pain
  • walking difficulties
  • swallowing problems

A heart attack is the result of heart disease, which accounts for about 1 out of 4 deaths in the United States annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has long been the number one cause of death in the country.

The American Heart Association reports that stroke is responsible for 1 in every 19 deaths in the United States, making it the fifth leading cause of death in the country.

A suspected stroke or heart attack should always be treated as a medical emergency. Calling emergency services like 911 right away can not only save your life, but also limit the damage from a heart attack or stroke.

And as much as possible, try to remain calm. Get help from family members, neighbors or friends who can help you while you wait for paramedics or after you arrive at the hospital.

When signs of a stroke or heart attack present themselves, you may be inclined to deny that such a severe vascular crisis is taking place. But knowing what the telltale signs are for each event and how to respond will give you the best chance of a positive outcome.

This information is especially important if you or a family member is at high risk of heart attack or stroke due to high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or other major risk factors.

Signs of Stroke and Heart Attack: An Easy Guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top