Heart Attacks and Strokes: Understanding the Difference and Knowing How to Cope With Them

heart attacks and strokes
This post is a collaboration.

Our hearts, quite literally, keep our bodies ticking over. They pump blood around our bodies, distributing oxygen, and ensuring that the rest of our organs can function properly. So, it’s not all too surprising that we should place a lot of emphasis on ensuring that they are functioning properly at all times. The problem is, however, that many of us don’t even consider the health of our hearts until we experiencing serious symptoms or problems. This has to change. We need to be aware of what’s going on and how to deal with issues in advance of finding ourselves in an emergency situation. This can help to ensure that we, or whoever else might be experiencing issues, stand the best chances of survival and recovery possible. So, let’s go over a few of the basics!

Knowing the Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Heart attacks are caused by the blood flow to the heart becoming blocked. Blockages can be caused by a variety of factors. It could be a build up of fat, cholesterol, or other substances within the coronary arteries, which lead directly to the heart. These substances can break away and cause a clot, which can either damage or destroy part of the heart’s muscle. Heart attacks are also, unfortunately, relatively common. So, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the symptoms. Remember that heart attacks may be more common in the elderly, but they can strike anyone at any time. A sign of heart attack in women and men could include:

-Pressure, tightness, or a squeezing sensation in the chest area


-Indigestion or heartburn

-Abdominal pain

-Shortness of breath

-Lightheaded and dizziness

-Cold sweats


Knowing the Symptoms of a Stroke

While strokes, like heart attacks, are generally associated with older people, it is, again, extremely important to remember that people can suffer a stroke at any age, and if you fear someone may be displaying symptoms, you need to treat the situation seriously, regardless of their age or background. people can experience a stroke at any age. A stroke is essentially a “brain attack”. It occurs when the blood supply to your brain, or part of the blood supply to your brain, is temporarily cut off. As the blood cannot then transport air and other importance substances to your brain, brain cells can become damaged or die. All strokes are different, so recovery will depend on independent and unique factors. However, general signs of a stroke can include:

-Sudden drooping on one side of the sufferer’s face

-An inability to raise both arms evenly above the head


-Confusion and disorientation

-Severe headaches



Contacting Emergency Services

If you fear that someone may be experiencing a serious issues to do with their heart, or if you fear that someone may be experiencing a stroke, it is absolutely essential that you contact the emergency services immediately. This will see you connected to a member of staff who will be able to take details of where you and the patient are. They will then be able to dispatch help as soon as possible. Stay on the phone once help is on its way, the person on the other end will be able to give you advice regarding how to help the patient in the time being, and they will also be able to collect further information about the patient, which can then be forwarded to the attending medical staff and help them to deal with the situation more quickly and effectively once they do arrive.

Using a Defibrillator

Defibrillators are relatively intimidating pieces of medical equipment. We are generally used to seeing them being used in emergency situations in films and television shows by medical professionals. But knowing how to use a defibrillator really could help you to save someone’s lift at some point or another down the line. Increasing numbers of public places are being fitted with outlets that contain defibrillators, just in case of emergencies. The device itself generates a high impulse electrical shock, which can then be applied to the area it is applied to the patient’s heart through the chest wall. If you are on the phone to a member of emergency medical staff and there is a defibrillator at hand, let them know. They may need you to operate it according to instructions if medical professionals are a distance away.

Measuring Heart Rates

If you are concerned about your heart rate or how blood is traveling around your body, remember that it is relatively easy to check your heart rate (or another person’s if you are worried about someone else). Generally speaking, a normal resting heart rate falls between sixty and one hundred beats per minute. But bear in mind that athletes and other particularly healthy individuals could have a resting rate as low as forty beats per minute. You only really need to worry if your heart rate is too high! To check your heart rate, you simply test your pulse. You can test your pulse in your neck, or in your wrist.

-At Your Neck: place your index and third finger on your neck to the side of your windpipe.

-At Your Wrist: place your index and third finger between the bone and tendon over your radial artery (this is closer to your thumb than your outer wrist)

Count the number of beats you feel within fifteen seconds. Then times this number by four. This will provide you with your beats per minute! If you think that your pulse may be outside of the average, you can book an appointment with your doctor (for minor variations), or call emergency services (for major variations) accordingly.

Heart attacks and strokes fall into a scary or daunting topic category to discuss. But at the end of the day, we all have a heart and it’s important that we all take care of them. By being able to identify and deal with emergency situations as early on as possible, we could save a lot of lives down the line!

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