Strokes and Heart Attacks. What's the Difference?
While their symptoms and effects can be
and therefore confusing, strokes and heart attacks
are nonetheless two different medical events.
both vascular events, meaning they involve the blood
vessels and particularly the arteries.
With heart attacks, there is a deprivation of the
blood supply to the heart, causing a part of the
die. With stroke,
there is a deprivation of the blood supply to the
brain, causing a part of the brain to die. Both also
can lead to death. To that extent, these are similar
However, the mechanisms which cause stroke and heart
attack can be quite varied. Heart attacks are almost
always the result of progressive coronary artery
disease, in which arteries are narrowed and blocked
by fatty deposits. The narrowed arteries are then
susceptible to formation of a clot, which blocks
blood flow to the heart.
Similar blockages can occur in the arteries
supplying blood to the brain, resulting in stroke.
There are also two other common causes of strokes.
One occurs when the arteries to the heart are
narrowed and a piece of the fatty tissue or clot
called an 'embolus' breaks off and travels to the
brain, blocking the blood supply.
Another type of stroke
occurs when a blood vessel bleeds into the brain
The bleeding results from a variety of causes,
including hypertension (high