Is it a Cardiac Arrest, Angina, a Heart Attack or a Stroke?

Have you seen before that classic dramatic scene in a movie, someone puts his hands on his chest, complains about severe pain, and then he falls unconscious to the ground?

Of course, we all did.

The first thing that comes up to your mind is that he may have a "stroke" or a "heart attack." Are they the same? Are stroke and heart attack interchangeable conditions? Well, they're not the same.

According to recent studies, most people are not fully aware about the difference between emergencies; especially those related to our heart and brain. They make a mistake and use wrong terms and synonyms. Knowing the difference between these terms makes a difference. They would have saved someone's life.

We will discuss the difference between most of the commonly mistaken emergencies: Heart Attack", Angina, Cardiac Arrest, and Stroke. You'll also learn how to deal with each of them.

Heart Attack

A heart attack is a circulation problem. It occurs when there is a block in the blood flow to your heart. Your heart arteries become blocked, so the oxygen-rich blood doesn't reach your heart. If the arteries are blocked for too long inside a part of the heart, it begins to die. Coronary arteries diseases that supply the heart are the most common cause for a heart attack. Also, the emotional stress on the long term may trigger a heart attack.

The symptoms of a heart attack often start slowly and can take up from days up to weeks.

How will you feel when it's a heart attack?
  • You may feel a gradual increasing pain in your chest or upper body parts such as your shoulder.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • In some cases, nausea or vomiting
What to do in a heart attack?

Most important, like any emergency, call the emergency number in your area. In case of a heart attack, try to calm down the person till the paramedics arrive. If possible, give them a chewable baby Aspirin.

What if the person stopped breathing suddenly?

Until the paramedics arrive, start doing CPR if you're a trained one.

Cardiac Arrest

A Cardiac Arrest is an "electrical" problem and occurs to your heart when there's something wrong with your heart's electrical signals. It causes an irregular heat beat (Arrhythmia) and your heart stops beating suddenly. In a cardiac arrest case, the heart can't pump blood to other body organs such as brain and lungs. The most common cause for arrest is Ventricular Fibrillation which is an irregular arrhythmia in your heart ventricles. An important thing you should know - cardiac arrests don't develop on their own. They occur as a result of an external inducer such electrical shock, intake of illegal drugs or intense chest traumas. Also, if untreated, a heart attack can cause ventricular fibrillation on the long term. This can then lead to a cardiac arrest.

The symptoms of a cardiac arrest do not persist for too long and occurs with no warning. Unlike the heart attack, in a cardiac arrest, the person starts to breathe irregularly and suddenly falls unconscious, it's a life-threatening emergency if it's not treated within minutes.

What are the sure symptoms for a cardiac arrest?
  • Sudden collapse with no response
  • No pulse
  • No breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Unfortunately, in case of a cardiac arrest, you don't have much time. If you don't deal with it immediately, this leads to the person's death.

Firstly, call the emergency number in your area. If you've trained performing CPR before, start performing CPR (100-120 compressions per minute with rescue breathes every 30 compressions) until the paramedics arrive. If you are untrained, just provide hands-only CPR by making uninterrupted chest compressions with no rescue breathes (100-120 compressions per minute), To learn CPR you should take an accredited first-aid training course including how to do CPR.

Angina

Most people mistaken an "angina" with a heart attack. The difference between them is that angina occurs when the heart doesn't get enough oxygen within a short period of time. Often, the chest pain disappears with rest or nitroglycerin. Another difference is that angina does notresult in damaging of affected heart parts permanently as in a heart attack.

In a heart attack, the pain can go away and return after a period of time even at rest, while angina pain disappears within a short period of time at rest, and this type of angina is called " Stable Angina".

Another kind of angina called "Unstable Angina", is characterized by recurrent pain. It can lead to a serious heart attack.

The symptoms of angina are the same as heart attack. They differ in how long they last and the intensity during rest determines whether it's an angina or a heart attack.

The best thing to do when you feel the symptoms for any of them is to consult your cardiologist for a better recovery. Don't hesitate to ask for help. Remember that the more you wait, the more damage you cause to your heart as angina can lead to a serious heart attack.

Stroke

Unlike the previous conditions that are related to the heart, a stroke is a "brain attack." It occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is blocked. When the brain cells don't get enough oxygen, this leads to their death, and this kind of stroke is known as "Ischemic stroke". Another kind of stroke called "Hemorrhagic Stroke" results due to the rupture of blood vessels in brain as the blood leaks to the surrounding areas.

Common Symptoms for a Stroke
  • Sudden numbness and weakness on one side of body (face, arm, leg)
  • Drooping face
  • Troubled speech
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness and imbalance
  • Trouble walking
  • Confusion
  • Sudden severe headache with no specific reason

We know that our brain is the master of your organs. It controls your entire body, so even the least damage to this important organ can lead to serious disabilities.

What to do if you saw someone with these symptoms

Call the emergency number in your area immediately. Time is of utmost important, so don't wait. The person should be rescued within five minutes, this reduces the risk of having future disabilities.

Remember that you can save someone's life by dealing with each emergency properly. Take them seriously. Now, you are more equipped and knowledgeable to identify and know now the difference between each of them.

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