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Stroke or Heart Attack? Are you at risk?

Stroke or Heart Attack? Are you at risk?

The terms heart attack and stroke are both often used interchangeably despite being significantly different from one another. While both the conditions occur suddenly and are life-threatening medical emergencies, they vary greatly. Read on to know the difference between the two, their risk factors, symptoms & more!

Both stroke and heart attack are known to be vascular or blood-vessel related conditions. While a heart attack is generally the result of choked blood supply to the heart due to plaque deposits that cause CAD or Coronary Artery Disease, a stroke on the other hand is a “brain attack” when the blood supply to the brain gets interrupted. The primary causes of the two chronic conditions are quite similar and may include risk factors like obesity, family history, high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, etc. However,  they may vary in several respects. Let’s explore these in detail to keep the risk at bay!

Gender:
This is a crucial factor that comes into play when analyzing one’s risk. These may also help people stay cautious of their triggers and prevent the disease. When it comes to gender, men are more susceptible to having heart attacks and that too at an early age. Additionally, while strokes in men are more common in men than in women, it is likely to have life-threatening implications in women. A good way to keep the risk of the disease at bay is maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, keeping a tab on your health and going for regular health check-ups!

Stress
Stress is often a contributing factor to a heart attack. Several scientists have explored the relationship of an individual’s health behaviour, economic & social status and the amount of stress in their lives to their stress-managing capacity.  Since every individual is different and so is their response to stressful circumstances, those under too much stress may start overeating or smoking more than usual further putting them under severe risk for heart ailments. Adopting a stress-management regimen or following winding-down rituals like meditating, taking a stroll, participating in physical activity or investing in a hobby or some me-time can help people to de-stress!

Obesity:
Those who are overweight or are obese are often at a higher risk of falling prey to chronic conditions like heart diseases or vascular issues like stroke. Both stroke and heart disease have common causative factors like high LDL or low LDL  cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, type 2 diabetes and obesity. High Blood pressure too makes one vulnerable to attacks and strokes. This is because high BP is known to damage the lining of the arteries further leading to plaque buildup. Once the plaque builds up, it causes the arteries going to the heart and brain to narrow and limiting the supply of blood.

Passive smoke exposure and smoking:
Did you know that 1 in 4 deaths are known to be a cause of smoking? Here’s how smoking can damage the body in many ways and increase the risk of stroke and heart attack:

  • Smoking Increases several types of fat in the blood while causing good cholesterol to lower.
  • Since clots are the primary reason to block the blood flow in the brain and heart, smoking can cause the blood to become sticky and more susceptible to clotting. 
  • Smoking is also known to damage cells lining the blood vessels.

By: Anubha Hatwal | on 2020-11-10

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