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Strokes vs. Heart Attacks: Understanding the Difference

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Strokes vs. Heart Attacks: Understanding the Difference

The Difference Between Heart Attack & Stroke

While both heart attack and stroke are cardiovascular events, they affect the body very differently. The health experts at Antelope Valley Medical Center are here to outline the key differences between these two cardiovascular events.


A stroke happens when there is a sudden shortage of blood being supplied to the brain. In some cases, this can be caused by obstruction to the arteries that lead to the brain (ischemic strokes) or even by ruptured blood vessels that cause bleeding into the brain tissue (hemorrhagic strokes).

Signs & Symptoms

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Facial drooping
  • Trouble lifting one or both arms
  • Slurred or otherwise strange speech
  • Sudden confusion or trouble concentrating
  • Blurred or declining vision
  • Dizziness and trouble walking
  • Severe and sudden headache

What to Do if You Suspect a Stroke

When it comes to effectively diagnosing and treating a stroke, it is essential that you seek professional medical attention as quickly as possible. Once symptoms start to show, there is a 3-hour window for the most effective treatment. If you suspect you or someone around you is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately and make a note of when you first noticed the symptoms.

Though most people experiencing a stroke do not need CPR, there are some instances where it may be necessary. If the affected person falls unconscious, be sure to check their breathing and pulse. If there is none, follow the steps outlined in this video and perform CPR as you wait for emergency medical services to arrive.

Heart Attack

A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, happens when a portion of your heart suddenly isn't getting enough blood to function properly. When your heart muscle goes too long without enough blood or oxygen, there is more extensive damage to the heart.

Signs & Symptoms

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain
  • Feeling light-headed or faint
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or upper back
  • Pain or discomfort affecting one or both arms
  • Shortness of breath

What to do if You Suspect a Heart Attack

"Once a heart attack or stroke begins, the singular most important factor becomes time. A blocked artery in the heart or brain cannot supply essential oxygen-rich blood to the tissue, and cells start to die. The longer you wait to come in, the longer your heart attack or stroke will continue to cause damage." Dr. Moneer Eddin, Interventional Cardiologist, Antelope Valley Medical Center

If you suspect that you or someone around you are having a heart attack, it is important that you dial 9-1-1 immediately. Time is of the essence when it comes to reducing the damage to the heart muscle due to a heart attack.

In some cases, CPR is needed to keep the heart pumping during a heart attack. Be sure to check the affected person's heart and breathing rate, following the steps outlined in this video until medical professionals arrive on the scene.

Acute Stroke Care in Lancaster, CA

At Antelope Valley Medical Center, we understand that patients suffering from a stroke require a quick response and accurate diagnosis in the short window following an attack. Antelope Valley Medical Center 's stroke response team has a proven track record for demonstrating extraordinary efficiency and expertise in stroke care.

With Advanced Primary Stroke Center Certification from The Joint Commission and the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, Antelope Valley Medical Center is committed to providing timely care to quickly treat acute stroke victims.

Call (661) 949-5000 or visit our dedicated stroke care page for more information.