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What is the difference between a heart attack and a stroke?

A:

Quick Answer

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is compromised, while a heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States of America, notes the National Stroke Association.

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Full Answer

A heart attack often occurs when there is a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. Plaque basically blocks the flow of blood into the heart, depriving it of oxygen and other important substances. Plaque may be formed by excess fats, cholesterol and various other substances. In severe cases, this blockage may end up causing damage to the heart muscle.

Individuals that experience a heart attack are likely to feel chest pain, tightness or an aching sensation. They may experience shortness of breath and cold sweat. Other symptoms of this condition include general tiredness, heartburn, nausea, lightheadedness and abdominal pain. Surgical procedures and medication are the main treatment options available for this condition, notes Mayo Clinic.

When blood flow to the brain is compromised, brain cells will start dying within a few seconds due to lack of oxygen. As these cells die, the parts of the body controlled by the affected part of the brain can no longer be controlled. Some symptoms of a stroke include numbness on one side, impaired speech and muscle weakness on one side of the body.

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