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Heart Failure vs Heart Attack

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Heart failure and heart attacks are forms of heart disease, while the term "heart disease" refers to a variety of cardiac disorders.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Yash Kathuria

Published At May 10, 2024
Reviewed AtMay 31, 2024


Heart attacks and heart failure are not the same medical disorders. However, they are connected. These two terms are frequently misunderstood and used inappropriately. These are two different health concerns with similar causes and outcomes. Heart failure and heart attacks are significant cardiac disorders that require specialized care from expert surgeons and specialists. Let us learn the differences between a heart attack and heart failure.

How Does a Normal Heart Work?

The heart is a little bigger than a fist but a powerful, muscular pump. Pumping the proper amount of blood into every body part is its responsibility.

Four chambers make up the heart:

  • Two upper chambers are known as atria (an atrium).

  • Two ventricles, which are lower chambers.

  • Blood that has lost oxygen from the body is drawn from the right atrium and sent to the right ventricle, where the lungs replenish it with oxygen.

From the lungs, oxygen-rich blood passes via the left atrium and left ventricle before being pumped to the body's other organs. The heart pumps blood to all of the body's tissues, including the lungs. The heart's four chambers must be united for the organ to function correctly. The pumping capacity of a healthy heart is more than sufficient to provide adequate blood circulation.

What Is Heart Failure?

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is a disease that develops when the heart cannot pump blood fast enough to keep up with the body's needs. It could also happen if the heart cannot pump blood efficiently. The phrase "heart failure" does not imply that the heart has stopped beating. On the other hand, heart failure is a serious condition that calls for medical care.

Heart failure can occur quickly (acute type) or gradually as the heart weakens over time (chronic type). The heart may be affected on one or both sides, and different factors may contribute to heart failure on the left and right sides. Heart failure is typically brought on by another illness that destroys the heart. This includes hypertension, cardiomyopathy (any disorder that affects the heart), coronary heart disease, inflammation of the heart, and irregular heartbeats.

Heart failure symptoms might not appear straight away. However, over time, people can have breathlessness, fatigue, and an accumulation of fluid in the neck, stomach, or lower body. Kidney or liver disease can result from heart failure. Pulmonary hypertension and other heart disorders like irregular heartbeat, heart valve dysfunction, and sudden cardiac arrest are among the various ailments it might cause. Heart failure is a dangerous illness that currently has no treatment. On the other hand, many patients can benefit from treatments like medication, surgery, gadgets, and healthy lifestyle modifications that can improve their quality of life.

What Is Heart Attack?

Insufficient oxygen reaches one or more parts of the heart muscle, resulting in a heart attack (myocardial infarction). When the heart muscle's blood supply is cut off, this occurs. The accumulation of plaque in the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis) causes the obstruction. Deposits, cholesterol, and other materials make up plaque. Upon the rupture of a plaque, a blood clot forms rapidly.

The actual cause of the heart attack is a blood clot. A blood or oxygen shortage causes damage to the heart's muscle cells, which eventually leads to death. After a blockage, irreversible damage starts within 30 minutes. As a result, the cardiac muscle deprived of oxygen stops functioning properly.

  • Chest discomfort or chest pain.

  • Discomfort may be described as fullness, squeezing, soreness, or uncomfortable pressure.

  • Feeling weak, lightheaded, or faint.

  • Sweating.

  • Soreness or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.

  • Arm ache and shoulder ache.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Breathlessness usually precedes chest discomfort, but it can also happen before.

Heart attack risk can be decreased by managing established coronary artery disease or changing risk factor-increasing habits. Adopting heart-healthy lifestyle habits, such as maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, exercising frequently, eating a balanced diet, and managing stress, can help avoid heart disease.

Even if individuals already have coronary artery disease, these changes can reduce their risk of experiencing a heart attack. It is also critical to receive therapy for additional medical conditions that raise the chance of a heart attack. Speak with a physician about the possible advantages of aspirin in avoiding blood clots that could cause a heart attack.

What Is the Difference Between Heart Failure and a Heart Attack?

A cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. Blockage of one of the coronary arteries results in a heart attack. The heart muscle loses its essential blood supply and will start to die from a lack of oxygen if treatment is not given. When a person experiences cardiac arrest, their breathing stops, and their heart stops pumping blood throughout their body. Heart attacks are a common cause of adult cardiac arrests. This is due to the possibility that a person experiencing a heart attack could develop a hazardous cardiac rhythm that could result in cardiac arrest. Both a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are considered emergencies.


Making heart-healthy lifestyle choices can help patients avoid heart failure and heart disease. They can also assist patients in managing the illness and halting its progression. One of the first things that has to be altered is nutrition. Similarly, reducing alcohol intake, giving up cigarettes, and exercising frequently can all be beneficial. As obvious as it may seem, stress management reduces the risk of heart disease. It is impossible to stop or reverse heart disease. It necessitates lifelong care and close observation.

Many heart disease symptoms can be alleviated with the right drugs, treatments, and lifestyle modifications. The kind of cardiac disease one has, and its degree of progression will determine how the illness is treated. Receiving a heart disease or heart failure diagnosis can be rather terrifying. If one experiences any symptoms, get help from a physician. One can learn lifestyle modifications to support heart health and prevent issues by collaborating promptly with the healthcare team.

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Dr. Yash Kathuria
Dr. Yash Kathuria

Family Physician


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