People often confuse when they are describing about heart failure and heart attack but these are two different medical conditions. Here few difference are elaborated between these two diseases.

Difference in definition:

During a heart attack, blood flow to the heart is blocked, often by a blood clot or a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Since the heart muscle needs oxygen to survive, when blood flow is blocked, the muscle begins to die. Therefore, heart attack sufferers need to be rushed into surgery to resolve the obstruction and restore blood flow.

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle fails to pump as much blood as the body needs. It is usually a long-term, chronic condition, but it may come on suddenly.

In people with heart failure, the heart doesn’t pump normally, causing the hormone and nervous systems to compensate for the lack of blood. The body may raise blood pressure, making the heart beat faster and causing it to hold on to salt and water. If this retained fluid builds up, the condition is called congestive heart failure.

Difference in sign and symptoms:

The most common symptom of heart attack is mild to severe chest pain having following characteristics:

  • Something heavy sitting on your chest
  • Squeezing (heavy) pressure
  • A tight band around the chest
  • Bad indigestion

The duration of pain may last up to 20 minutes. Other symptoms are cough, fainting, SOB (shortness of breath), and sweating.

The sign and symptoms of heart failure may develop slowly or suddenly. Common symptoms are as following:

  • SOB (shortness of breath)
  • Cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Desire of urination at night time
  • Swollen feet, liver
  • Weight gain

Difference in “Who is at risk”:

Risk factors for heart failure are:

  • Person having age 65 years or more
  • Overweight or obese
  • People who have had heart attack
  • Children who are suffering from congenital heart defects

Risk factors for heart attack are:

  • Smoking
  • Overweight and obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Lack of routine physical activity
  • High blood sugar due to insulin resistance or diabetes
  • An unhealthy diet (for example, a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium)

Difference in cure:

Damage to the heart due to a heart attack can be reversed by removing the blockage from the arteries through medications or surgery.

Heart Failure cannot be completely cured, and lifestyle modifications, medications or in some cases surgical options only help in managing the symptoms and improving the quality of life of patients.

Lastly, it is important to note that not all Heart Failure cases are because of a prior Heart Attack and not all Heart Attacks lead to Heart Failure.