Understanding Heart Attack and Stroke

Heart attack and stroke happens when blood flow that brings oxygen to your heart muscle is severely reduced. The blood carries oxygen in your body; without the oxygen, cells in your heart muscle or in your brain will die, which may lead to permanent disability or even death.

What Causes a Heart Attack and Stroke?

There are two main types of stroke which are: Ischemic Stroke and Hemorrhagic Stroke. Each of these types are caused by different factors such as the following:

  • Atherosclerosis

One of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke. It happens when cholesterol, fats, and other substances which are called plaque build up on the inner walls of coronary arteries, thus, narrowing the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood flow. This results to limited oxygen and blood supply to to organs in your body. 

In ischemic stroke, a plaque in your heart artery breaks which causes a thrombus (blood clot) or an embolus to form around the plaque. This blood clot brings decreased oxygen and blood flow to the heart muscle. When this happens, heart attack or myocardial infarction can ultimately occur.

  • High blood pressure, Head injury, and Aneurysm 

High blood pressure damages the arteries as it causes it to burst. It also weakens the arteries in your brain, putting you at more risk for heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure creates weak spots that can easily be ruptured, which abnormal blood-filled pouches (aneurysm) balloons out from that weak spot of the artery wall. Chronic High blood pressure is considered as the main cause of Hemorrhagic Stroke.

Aneurysm on the other hand, is made worse by high blood pressure. When it rupture, blood spills the space between the surfaces of your skull and brain, wherein blood vessels in your brain may spasm. Aneurysm is the most common cause of Subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Signs and Symptoms

Within just a few minutes of heart attack and stroke, cells in the brain immediately begins to die so immediate treatment is very much. It is therefore necessary to be aware of the common signs and symptoms of stroke such as the following:

  • Sudden severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness and/or lost of balance
  • Speech problem (slurred speech)
  • Weakness, numbness, or paralysis of one side of the body

There are instances where stroke occurs but does not show any symptoms (like in the case of smaller stroke or silent stroke). But it still brings great impact and can still damage your brain tissues.

Who's At Risk?

People with high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol are more prone to heart attack and stroke. Mostly, these diseases run in the family that is why it's also important to have a brief background of your family's medical history. 

Also, as being overweight (obesity) causes high blood pressure and high cholesterol, people who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

How to Reduce the Risk

The best way to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke is to lower down your cholesterol level as well as your blood pressure. You can do this by avoiding tobacco smoking, having a healthy diet, and having regular physical activities. 

You may also take dietary supplements to maintain healthy body weight while still getting enough vitamins and minerals that your body needs. If the disease runs in the family, have your cholesterol level and your blood pressure checked regularly.