Coronary heart assault vs coronary heart failure: this is inform the distinction


It’s important to protect our hearts, and we’re not talking about that in a metaphorical sense. The heart is the lifeblood of the body – the reason your brain gets oxygen to think, your hands are warm enough to hold on, and you can live another day. Still, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and two major conditions that fall under that umbrella — heart attack and heart failure — are no joke.

But if both conditions are a form of heart disease, what makes them so different? Let’s start with the basics: A heart attack occurs when a sudden blockage occurs in one of the heart’s arteries. This prevents oxygenated blood from circulating and eventually causes tissue death, April Stempien-Otero, MD, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the UW Medicine Heart Institute, tells SELF. Heart failure, on the other hand, develops when the heart does not pump enough blood for the body’s needs, which can cause fluid to build up in the lungs and other parts of the body, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (LNHBI).

Here’s what you need to know about heart attack versus heart failure, including symptoms, causes, treatments, and what you can do to lower your risk so your heart keeps working.

Heart Attack Symptoms vs Heart Failure Symptoms

The most common symptoms of a heart attack are quite different from the typical symptoms of heart failure. When it comes to a heart attack, you probably have an image in your head of someone clutching their chest before tripping. While chest pain — especially chest pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing sensation that radiates through the left arm or into the jaw — is a common sign of a heart attack, according to the NHLBI, potential symptoms may be more subtle. This is especially true for women, who are more likely to experience nausea or indigestion, cold sweats, and deep, unexplained fatigue, says Dr. Stempien-Otero. Shortness of breath and sudden dizziness or lightheadedness can also be red flags.

Meanwhile, the most common symptom of heart failure is shortness of breath, especially during activity, says Dr. Stempien-Otero. Activity in that sense, it’s not so much about your workouts as it is about your daily activity; Getting up from the couch, climbing stairs, or other basic movements shouldn’t make you wheeze or feel exhausted. It can be a sign of heart failure because when the heart stops pumping efficiently, fluid builds up around the lungs. in turn, you may feel short of breath and, at a later stage, experience swelling in the legs, ankles or feet.

Other potential heart failure symptoms include a persistent cough; abdominal swelling; rapid and unexplained weight gain due to fluid accumulation; nausea; lack of appetite; difficulty concentrating; and a fast or irregular heartbeat, depending on the Mayo Clinic.

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What causes a heart attack versus heart failure?

Several factors have been linked to a higher risk of heart attack and heart failure, Jeffrey Teuteberg, MD, a cardiologist and section chief of heart failure, heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at Stanford Medicine, tells SELF. This includes metabolic factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and increased body size. The use of substances that can damage the heart, such as tobacco, has also been linked to both conditions. Family history and genetic conditions can also play a role in either.

According to Mayo Clinicmajor risk factors for heart attack include:

  • Age (45 or older)
  • Lack of physical activity
  • A diet high in sodium or trans fat
  • Smoking or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Hyperglycemia or diabetes
  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Family history of heart attacks
  • extreme stress
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Preeclampsia (a high blood pressure disorder during pregnancy)

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