The Difference Between Stroke and Heart Attack

by | Dec 11, 2023

Understand the key differences between a stroke and a heart attack, from their distinct symptoms to underlying causes.

Call 9-9-5 immediately if you or a loved one is experiencing any of these warning signs.

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Understanding Stroke

A stroke takes place when the blood supply to the brain is diminished or completely obstructed, preventing the brain from receiving necessary oxygen and nutrients. The signs of a stroke are numbness or paralysis, which is limited to one side of the body, slurred speech, headache, vomiting, confusion, vision disturbances, and dizziness with difficulty walking. This is a potentially life-threatening event and requires immediate medical attention.

A stroke is caused by a leaking or bursting blood vessel, and it can also be caused by a blocked artery. Some common risk factors that make a person more susceptible to suffering from a stroke are:

  • Being overweight
  • Having diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Being male (although women suffer from strokes too)
  • Being of African-American descent
  • Heavy drinking

FAST Warning Signs and Other Stroke Symptoms

The sooner a person experiencing a stroke receives medical intervention, the higher the likelihood of recovery. This is why FAST, which is an acronym that stands for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time is so important. Using FAST helps you to quickly assess a person for stroke, so they can be immediately transported to the hospital and receive special treatment. To be effective, this treatment, a clot-buster also known as TPAs (thrombolytic), must be administered within three hours of the start of symptoms. Receiving the clot-busting medication after this crucial period is typically ineffective, as the damage has already been done.

F – Face: Does one side of the patient’s face droop when you ask them to smile?
A – Arms: Does one of the patient’s arms face down when you ask them to raise their arms?
S – Speech: Does the person’s speech sound slurred or unusual when you ask them to repeat a simple phrase?
T – Time: Time is of the essence, so if you notice all these symptoms, call 9-9-5 immediately!

Read more about the ‘Golden Hour of Stroke’, which is the 60 minute window following the onset of stroke.

Understanding Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is greatly reduced or completely obstructed. The obstruction is usually a result of built-up plaque from fat and cholesterol. Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, causes part of the heart muscle to die. Simply put, a stroke occurs when there is a blockage of blood supply to the brain whereas a heart attack happens when there is a blockage of blood supply to the heart.

5 Common Signs of Heart Attacks

5 common signs of a heart attack include:

  1. Chest pain or discomfort
  2. Light heartedness, nausea, or vomiting
  3. Jaw, neck, or back pain aching
  4. Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  5. Shortness of breath 

Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies

Luckily, there are ways to prevent a heart attack from occurring, and these entail:

  1. Making lifestyle changes that are conducive to heart health, such as adhering to a cardio diet, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and adequately reducing stress.
  2. Regular health check-ups and screenings.

There are also ways to prevent strokes from occurring, as well. Here is what stroke prevention entails:

  1. Managing hypertension and diabetes is extremely important when it comes to preventing strokes, as they are two of the main causes.
  2. Lose weight if you’re obese, and losing even 10 or 15 pounds can dramatically reduce your likelihood of having a stroke. Managing high cholesterol can reduce the risk of having a stroke. 
  3. Limit alcohol consumption.
  4. Exercise 4-5 days each week. This could involve walking, cycling, swimming, and more.
  5. If you have atrial fibrillation, be sure to have it treated, as the blood thinners that are commonly used to treat the condition can also prevent strokes from occurring. 

Strokes usually occur without warning, but some screenings can alert your doctor of increased risk factors so that medications and other preventative methods can be implemented.  The ASCVD risk factor is a screening that assesses your 10-year risk of experiencing a stroke (or heart attack), and a carotid artery ultrasound can detect a blocked or partially blocked artery. 


Stroke Management, Prevention, and Screening at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

As you can see, it’s easy for a person experiencing a heart attack or stroke to be unable to differentiate between the two if they’re not familiar with the symptoms.  The absolute best treatment for stroke or heart attack is prevention, and if you’re looking for a different approach to managing your health, we invite you to arrange an appoint at our specialized stroke clinic in Singapore. Our specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja, has many years of experience performing neurointerventional treatments since 1995. Not only can these procedures prevent heart attacks and strokes, but they also help you recover if you’ve already experienced one of these serious medical events.  


Aphasia and Stroke

Understand the complexities of aphasia and its impact on stroke survivors from our specialized stroke clinic. Explore the different types of aphasia, the challenges it presents, and empowering strategies for recovery.

Consult a Stroke Specialist in Singapore

Dr. Manish Taneja, is an expert in endovascular and image guided neurointerventional procedures of brain and spine. It’s important to find a stroke specialist and doctor you can trust in Singapore. He has special interest in treatment of brain aneurysms, stroke and vascular malformations. Come in for a further evaluation. Arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our stroke specialist.


Dr. Manish Taneja performing surgery

Stroke Resources

Warning Signs of Mild Stroke

Discover the early warning signs of a mild stroke (Transient Ischemic Attack) at our specialized stroke clinic in Singapore. Learn about the subtle symptoms that may signal a TIA and the importance of prompt medical attention. 

Healthy and happy Indonesian family

We’ve Got You Covered for Specialized Stroke Screening, Prevention, and Management

Imagine heart attacks where the blood flow to your heart is blocked. Similarly, a stroke occurs when the blood flow to your brain is interrupted becoming a “brain attack”. When blood supply does not reach a certain part, brain cells begin to die. Different types of stroke include ischemic strokes (blockage of blood vessel due to blood clot) or a mini stroke, a TIA (transient ischemic attack), with no permanent damage yet serious. Stroke also occurs when a blood vessel in the brain pops causing bleeding in the brain.

Certain areas of the brain can be affected by stroke and some symptoms of a stroke including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood sugar levels increase the risk of stroke whereas an active lifestyle or controlling high cholesterol reduces the risk. How well do you know stroke? Find tips to prevent and manage stroke, the differences in stroke screening tests, and the newer technology and treatments available. 

Supreme Vascular and Interventional Stroke Programs

Brain Aneurysm Resources

Discover brain aneurysm resources that go beyond the basics designed for patients. Understand the meaning of  a brain aneurysm condition, the causes, symptoms, signs, and more. Connect with your brain health.

Put Brain Aneurysm on Your Health Radar

Did you experience the worst headache of your life? Could it be a brain aneurysm that ruptures, which means bleeding in the brain? Thoughts could be racing through your mind. Then what is the difference between unruptured (a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons) or ruptured brain aneurysm? If you’re wondering, then the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is here to help. It’s important to look out for the tell-tale brain aneurysm symptoms, signs, causes, and risk factors.

Dr. Manish Taneja has been performing brain aneurysm treatments since 1995 from surgical clipping to latest minimally invasive procedures. Each patient is unique as is the size and location of the aneurysm. Your brain has different conditions to treat the aneurysm and artery vessel walls of a blood vessel in the brain. This calls for personalised brain aneurysm treatment depending on your symptoms, family, history, medication, and more. A simple CT scan could be just what the doctor ordered and the first step in early detection and prevention of a brain aneurysm. Come in for an easy consultation with our brain aneurysm specialist in Singapore to be on your health radar.

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various neurological conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our neurointervention specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.