Difference Between Heart Attack and Heart Failure

Heart Attack vs Heart Failure

Heart is a pump working continuously in our body. Heart circulates the blood throughout the body. Blood carries the oxygen and nutrients to the tissue, and the waste products from the tissue. Heart get the oxygen and nutrients via the coronary arteries. Heart is capable to function on its own, however, the sympathetic stimulation and parasympathetic inhibition may play a role in its function.

Heart needs continuous blood supply to work continuously. If the blood supply is deficient or stopped the cardiac muscles suffer with hypoxia and ultimately they die. Cardiac muscle cells cannot be replaced by new muscle cells. The dead tissue may be changed in to fibrous tissue. If the blood supply is partially occluded, (the coronary arteries are partially blocked by cholesterol plague) the muscle will suffer. The nerve tissue will be stimulated and the intense pain may be felt. This pain is named as angina. If the blood supply is cut off critically, the muscle will die. This also cause severe, unbearable pain. This is called myocardial infarction or heart attack. Heart attack usually occurs suddenly. If the infarction is very extensive, and involved with most of the ventricular muscles, heart failure may occur. Severe chest pain with sweating will be the myocardial infarction.

Heart failure is a condition where the heart fails to pump out enough blood to the body. Due to this failure the body tissue will suffer ischemia. There are lot of causes for heart failure. Extensive heart attack may cause heart failure. Some of the causes for heart failure are congenital heart diseases ( the cardiac anomalies from the birth), arrhythmia (heart beats irregularly), problem with the heart valves (valvular disease).

The symptoms and signs of heart failure occurs gradually (except in heart failure caused by heart attack). The symptoms are swelling of the tissues, difficulty in breathing, irregular pulse, difficult to sleep and fatigue. The tongue may also show blue discoloration (Central cyanosis).

ECG will help to diagnose the myocardial infarction (hear attack). The cardiac enzymes also help to confirm the diagnosis. Troponin is a marker, which is used to diagnose the heart attack. 2D echo may help to find out the cardiac muscle function. The fibrous tissue formed by the dead cardiac muscle will cause improper muscle contraction.


Heart failure is a clinical diagnosis. However ECG, 2D echo and other tests will be performed to find out the cause and manage the patient.

Heart attack and heart failure are different entities.

Heart attack may be a cause for heart failure.

Severe chest pain is the feature of heart attack.

Leg swelling and difficult in breathing are prominent feature of heart failure.