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Alex Fulton

Alex Fulton has been working in the wellness field for more than 20 years. She has written extensively about integrative medicine, herbalism, supplements and other topics related to holistic health. Alex also focuses on issues related to women's health, from menstruation to menopause. She has collaborated with physicians, midwives and functional medicine practitioners to promote natural approaches to health care for women. She has a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Stroke vs. Heart Attack: Know the Signs & Symptoms

Stroke vs. Heart Attack: Know the Signs & Symptoms

Heart attacks and strokes are not the same. Knowing the signs and symptoms of each could save your life.

Conditions & Treatments

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nieca Goldberg

Designed by Megan Schofield

Friday, February 4 is National Wear Red Day.

Infographic Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack and Stroke. Click the image to open the PDF

What’s the difference between a heart attack and a stroke?

  • During a heart attack, blood flow to the heart is blocked
  • During a stroke, blood flow to the brain is interrupted

Heart attack symptoms in women

It’s important to note that women may experience different heart attack symptoms than men.

  • Pain/discomfort, pressure or squeezing in the chest area (women may feel discomfort lower down in the chest than men)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained fatigue or lack of endurance
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

⚠️ As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms — particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Stroke symptoms in women

The acronym BE FAST was created to help people remember the most common stroke symptoms.

  • Balance problems, dizziness, and/or loss of coordination
  • Eye trouble, including blurred vision and difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Face drooping or numbness on one side of the face
  • Arm weakness or numbness in one arm
  • Speech difficulty, including inability to get words out and slurred speech
  • Time to call 911 if a person shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away

⚠️ Sometimes people have a mini stroke (transient ischemic attack), where symptoms resolve in minutes or hours as opposed to being long-lasting. These symptoms must be taken care of right away because a mini stroke is often a precursor to a full stroke.

The good news? Heart attacks and strokes are preventable. Talk to your healthcare provider about your personal risk, including factors such as:

Some ways to reduce your risk are:

  • Changing your diet
  • Exercising
  • Lowering stress
  • Medication

If you’re having heart attack or stroke symptoms, don’t wait to see if they go away. Call 911 immediately. The sooner you’re treated, the better your outcome will be.

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