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what distinguishes a heart attack from heart failure

What Distinguishes A Heart Attack From Heart Failure?


Understanding the difference between heart attack and heart failure is essential if you’ve recently suffered a heart attack. Heart attack is a medical emergency, whereas heart failure is a chronic illness. Both conditions require treatment, but the difference between the two is the severity of symptoms.

Understanding what distinguishes a heart attack from heart failure helps you differentiate the symptoms, causes, prevention, and treatment for these two common heart conditions. This article will discuss the difference between heart attack and heart failure and their respective symptoms. As you read further, you’ll discover that treatment for heart disease is the same.

Heart Attack is a Medical Emergency

A heart attack is a medical emergency that can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. Therefore, it is imperative that you call 911 if you feel any chest pain or difficulty breathing.

If your heart has stopped beating, it means it is an emergency. Without immediate medical attention, your heart could suffer permanent damage and even fail to function. Approximately 635,000 people have a new heart attack every year, and another 300,000 will suffer a second attack. Coronary heart disease is responsible for one out of every four deaths in the United States.

Knowing what distinguishes a heart attack from a heart failure will also help you seek the proper treatment for your condition. Heart attack treatment aims to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. Medication and surgery may be used to do this.

Supplemental oxygen is often given through a tube placed under the nose or a mask over the mouth. Supplemental oxygen helps increase oxygen levels in the blood, which reduces strain on the heart. Anti-clotting medicines, such as aspirin, may also be prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming.

In addition to chest pain, a person with symptoms of a heart attack may experience pain in other parts of the body. Pain in the back, neck, and stomach may also be experienced. An artery that supplies blood to the heart can become blocked, resulting in an attack. If you feel any of these symptoms, call 911. If you cannot contact 911, try calling the emergency services in your area. They will be able to start treatment while they’re on the way to the hospital.  

Calling 911 is important because a delay in treatment can result in permanent damage to the heart and may even cause death. It’s also important to have a survival plan in place. For example, keep emergency contact information in your wallet and arrange for someone to care for your dependents while you are at the hospital.

Heart Failure is a Chronic Illness

The outlook for people with heart failure is often uncertain, as it depends on heart muscle function, the response to treatment, and the length of follow-up. In most cases, the outlook for those with heart failure is significantly worse than that of non-heart failure patients.

The past generation of heart failure treatments, including behavioral, pharmacological, and device-based therapies, greatly improved survival and quality of life. However, the current prevalence of heart failure and advances in medicine have made it imperative to continue to apply these principles while incorporating new treatment strategies.

When one or both ventricles are damaged, the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently enough to supply all the organs in the body. As a result, blood pressure increases in the upper chambers and nearby veins. This backlog of blood leads to edema and pressure in the abdominal organs. The lungs and other organs may also experience symptoms related to the backlog of blood.

Previous studies have indicated that patients with heart failure are often unaware of their symptoms, which means they are slow to take action when their symptoms worsen or become more severe. This may be due to a lack of coordination between their medical and social care. This warrants a greater need for support and time to learn new techniques to cope with their symptoms. Patients also reported a lack of understanding of the disease, resulting in re-admission. Not to mention that hospitalizations are disruptive and can increase healthcare costs.

If heart failure is diagnosed, life expectancy is about three to twenty years. This may vary depending on your age, gender, and other factors. The severity of your condition will affect your lifestyle and quality of life. Therefore, treatment is based on the heart muscle function level and age.

Heart failure is a chronic illness that can impact your happiness, wellbeing, and productivity. The best way to deal with it is to be proactive, keep track of your symptoms and report them to your healthcare provider. You will have to continue to visit your provider on a regular basis so that they can monitor your condition and make necessary changes to your lifestyle.

Is the Treatment for Heart Disease the same as for Heart Attack?

Medications and lifestyle changes are usually prescribed to treat heart diseases in general. Some medications, such as diuretics, reduce swelling and shortness of breath. Other lifestyle changes include losing weight and quitting smoking. Keeping the heart healthy is vital to preventing both heart failure and heart attack.

In the initial stages of a heart attack, medications are used to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure, control cholesterol and relieve pain. Some doctors may also perform surgical procedures to open blocked arteries and supply the heart with oxygen. The earlier the treatment begins, the higher the chances of recovery.

Both heart attack and heart failure are severe medical conditions. Heart attack symptoms often come on suddenly and are not the same as heart failure. Acute heart failure can be treated with medications, but it may be irreversible. In either case, the cause of heart disease is coronary artery disease. If these plaques build up inside the arteries, they narrow, making it impossible for the heart to pump blood efficiently.

The symptoms of heart attacks and heart failure may vary from person to person. Some people experience chest pain, while others may feel unexplained fatigue, weakness, and lightheadedness. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately or ask family members to rush you to the hospital. A heart attack is a medical emergency, and early treatment is essential to prevent serious complications and improve the prognosis. Once your heart stops working properly, surgery will be necessary.

While the treatment for heart attack involves urgently restoring blood flow to the affected areas of the heart and preventing additional damage, heart failure treatments focus on ‘managing’ the condition, such as minimizing strain on the heart and preventing the condition from worsening in the long run.


Having a physical examination performed by a qualified medical professional can help you determine if you have heart failure. Heart failure rarely occurs suddenly, but it can be a sign of serious heart valve damage or high blood pressure.

If you suspect you may have heart failure, contact your doctor right away to schedule an appointment. Observe any changes in your heartbeat, blood pressure, and other symptoms and make an appointment as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should sign up for a free heart disease newsletter to stay up to date with recent advancements in research and health care.

In addition to fatigue, people with heart failure may have difficulty walking and climbing stairs. They may also experience difficulty carrying groceries. A cough may be chronic or blood-tinged, and fluid buildup in the lungs can be a sign of heart failure. The symptoms of heart failure vary from person to person, and they can be confused with other conditions. In addition to these, a person may experience chest pain, weakness, and shortness of breath.

In contrast, most people experiencing a heart attack feel a severe pressure or squeezing sensation in the chest. These feelings can last for a few minutes and may also be accompanied by pain in the arms. Shortness of breath is also common, as is nausea. Other symptoms may include cold sweat, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. The sooner you seek medical attention, the better your chances are of recovering from a heart attack.

Fortunately, most heart attacks are treatable. Depending on the severity of the condition, a paramedic may inject blood-thinning aspirin or nitroglycerin to help your heart pump. The cause of the heart attack will determine the long-term course of treatment, though many people recover and go on to lead normal, active lives. Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a procedure in which a medical specialist threads a catheter into an artery that is clogged or blocked. A stent is then inserted into the artery.

Treatment for Heart Failure

Symptoms of heart failure may come on slowly, or they may only appear when you are active. But, after a heart attack, symptoms can emerge suddenly. To diagnose heart failure, your doctor will order several tests. Echocardiograms are the most common and provide valuable guidance in heart failure treatment. Other imaging tests will help your doctor determine the level of heart function and any damage to the heart muscle.

That being said, heart failure has no lasting cure. However, some ongoing strategies can help patients live longer and improve their overall health condition. The most important of these is managing fluid balance.

You should limit caffeine intake and avoid salty foods. Salt also increases fluid retention, so try to limit the amount of salt in your food. If you smoke, be sure to quit; smoking depletes oxygen in the blood and damages artery walls. Lastly, heart failure can cause a heart attack if it happens too soon.

Your doctor may recommend an ACE inhibitor if you have high blood pressure or coronary artery disease. Your doctor may also prescribe an angiotensin II receptor blocker, which blocks the receptor for angiotensin. Your doctor may recommend an ACE inhibitor if you have diabetes, heart failure, or high blood pressure. The AHA recommends an ACE inhibitor if you’re not taking a heart failure medication.

Other heart failure medications include an ARB and an ARNI (angiotensin-converting enzyme). These drugs reduce the pressure on the heart and decrease the risk of death. The diuretics prescribed to treat heart failure can reduce breathlessness, ankle swelling, and fluid retention. Some of these drugs also thin the blood and prevent a stroke. Similarly, digoxin can slow the heart’s contractions and prevent it from being enlarged.


What distinguishes a heart attack from a heart failure is crucial to understand their causes and symptoms and seek the right treatment. While the two conditions may share some similarities, which is why they can confuse you, there are some critical differences between them that one should know about. To know more about the differences between heart attack and heart failure, please check out HG Analytics, your go-to place for finding out all about medical conditions, treatments, and healthcare tips.

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