medical professionals who know the difference between myocardial infarction and heart failure

Myocardial Infarction vs. Heart Failure: What's the Difference?

Myocardial infarction, which is more commonly known as a heart attack, and heart failure are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually describe two very different medical conditions.

Myocardial Infarction

A myocardial infarction occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off suddenly. This will cause the muscle to die, because it is deprived of oxygen. The most common cause for a heart attack is a blood clot that becomes stuck in one of the blood vessels, causing blockage. Heart attacks can be more or less severe, depending on how much blockage occurred and how much of the heart muscle was affected. You are more at risk if you are an older male, overweight, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or if you are a smoker.

Heart Failure

Heart failure, on the other hand, refers to the failure of the pumping aspect of the heart. If you have heart failure, your "pump" is less effective at moving the correct amount of blood for each heart beat. Heart failure doesn’t mean your heart is likely to stop working suddenly; it just means that it isn’t working quite as well as it should be. Heart failure can be the result of myocardial infarction. Since myocardial infarction causes some of your heart muscle to die, this will also affect your heart’s ability and power to pump blood as efficiently as before. You are also at a higher risk for heart failure if you have high blood pressure, drink alcohol, or have existing problems with your heart valves.

Last Updated: June 20, 2017

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