It’s easy to mix up the differences between a cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke. Each, however, affect parts of the body in different ways. Recognizing the symptoms and knowing what to do can be the difference between life and death in most cases.
Heart Attack: Heart attacks can sneak up on you slowly, with a mild pain, or overcome you in seconds. When blood flow to the heart is either reduced or stopped completely due to a blockage in the arteries that prevents oxygen to the heart muscle.
The most common indicator that it could be a heart attack is chest pain. The pain in your chest can be consistent, come and go. Sometimes, still it could feel like a pressure or fullness in your chest cavity. Other signs to look out for are shortness of breath as well as pain in your arms, neck, back, stomach, or jaw.
Women tend to break out in a cold sweat, become nauseous or lightheaded in addition to chest pain, though it’s not unheard of for men to experience these symptoms as well.
Stroke: When one is having a stroke, blood flow to the brain is reduced or stopped making it difficult for oxygen to get to the brain. The first thing they usually experience is a sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg. In most cases the numbness occurs on one particular side of the body more so than the other.
Someone experiencing a stroke could suddenly become confused, have trouble speaking or understanding you, become dizzy, losing their balance and coordination, causing problems walking, seeing, and severe headaches.
Cardiac Arrest: Cardiac arrest often happens suddenly and without warning. Major signs that a person has had a cardiac arrest are loss of responsiveness and irregular breathing for more than five seconds at a time.
You should call 9-1-1 immediately and begin CPR. Cardiac arrest often results in death, however, strokes and heart attacks are extremely life-threatening as well and every second counts.
All three of these medical conditions stem from heart disease. Though risk factors like gender, age, family history, and race are uncontrollable there are things you can do to help prevent these life threatening conditions according to the American Heart Association:
- Get regular health screenings
- Stop smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limit stress