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Ischemia vs. Infarction: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 4, 2023
Ischemia is the reduction of blood supply to tissues, while infarction is the death of tissues due to lack of blood supply.

Key Differences

Ischemia and infarction are medical terms that pertain to the flow of blood and the health of tissues. Ischemia refers to the situation where there's a reduced supply of blood to a part of the body, often caused by a blockage. Infarction, on the other hand, denotes the death of tissue due to a prolonged lack of blood supply, often resulting from sustained ischemia.
In the context of heart health, ischemia can result in symptoms like chest pain or discomfort because the heart muscle isn't getting enough oxygen-rich blood. However, if the blood flow isn't restored promptly, infarction, or a heart attack, can occur, indicating that a portion of the heart muscle has died. Similarly, in the brain, ischemia can lead to transient symptoms, but prolonged blockage can result in an infarction, commonly known as a stroke.
Ischemia can be temporary and reversible. It's a warning sign that a certain area isn't getting enough blood, and if addressed promptly, it might not lead to permanent damage. Infarction, however, means damage has been done. Once tissue undergoes infarction, it can't be revived; it's dead and lost its function.
Both ischemia and infarction can be detected through medical tests. While ischemia might be indicated by symptoms and changes in a person's electrocardiogram (ECG), infarction often results in specific markers in the blood, showing tissue damage, and might be visible on imaging studies like MRIs or CT scans.

Comparison Chart


Reduced blood supply to tissues.
Death of tissues due to lack of blood supply.


Often due to blockage.
Result of prolonged ischemia.


Can be temporary and reversible.
Permanent tissue damage.


Can be symptomatic or silent.
Indicates tissue death and loss of function.


Changes in ECG, symptoms.
Blood markers, imaging studies.

Ischemia and Infarction Definitions


A reduced blood flow to a part of the body.
The patient's leg pain was due to ischemia.


The death of tissue due to lack of blood.
The MRI showed an infarction in the patient's brain.


A precursor to potential tissue damage.
If ischemia in the brain isn't addressed, it can lead to a stroke.


Resulting from prolonged ischemia.
The infarction in his heart was due to a blocked artery.


A temporary reduction in blood supply.
Quick intervention can reverse the effects of ischemia.


Often used synonymously with terms like heart attack or stroke.
Timely intervention can prevent a major infarction.


Often caused by a blockage in blood vessels.
Smoking can increase the risk of ischemia in peripheral arteries.


It can be detected by blood markers.
Blood tests confirmed the patient had an infarction.


A decrease in oxygen-rich blood to tissues.
Ischemia in the heart can cause chest pain.


A permanent tissue damage.
After the infarction, she had to undergo physical therapy.


A decrease in the blood supply to a bodily organ, tissue, or part caused by constriction or obstruction of the blood vessels.


The formation or development of an infarct.


Local disturbance in blood circulation due to mechanical obstruction of the blood supply (for example, embolism, thrombosis, or vasoconstriction).


An infarct.


Local anemia in a given body part sometimes resulting from vasoconstriction or thrombosis or embolism


(pathology) The process which causes an infarct.


Can ischemia lead to infarction?

Yes, prolonged ischemia can result in infarction.

What does ischemia refer to?

Ischemia refers to reduced blood supply to tissues.

How is ischemia detected?

Ischemia can be detected through symptoms and changes in an ECG.

Can a person have ischemia without symptoms?

Yes, ischemia can be silent without noticeable symptoms.

Can you fully recover after an infarction?

Recovery varies; while tissue damage is permanent, rehabilitation can help regain function.

Is infarction reversible?

No, once tissue undergoes infarction, the damage is permanent.

What tests can confirm infarction?

Infarction can be confirmed using blood tests and imaging like MRI or CT scans.

What's the link between ischemia and chest pain?

Ischemia in the heart can result in chest pain or discomfort.

What is an infarction?

Infarction is the death of tissues due to lack of blood supply.

What are the consequences of an infarction in the heart?

Infarction in the heart, or a heart attack, means part of the heart muscle has died.

How is infarction in the brain commonly termed?

Infarction in the brain is often called a stroke.

Can ischemia be temporary?

Yes, ischemia can be temporary and reversible if addressed promptly.

Are there treatments for ischemia?

Yes, treatments aim to restore blood flow, like medications or procedures.

Can lifestyle choices affect the risk of ischemia?

Yes, smoking, diet, and exercise can influence the risk of ischemia.

Is an infarction immediately fatal?

Not always, but it can be life-threatening and requires prompt medical attention.

What happens after tissue undergoes infarction?

After infarction, the affected tissue loses its function and can't be revived.

Is infarction always due to ischemia?

Most often, infarction is a result of prolonged ischemia.

Are ischemia and infarction related to aging?

The risk can increase with age, but they can occur at any age.

What organs can be affected by ischemia?

Any organ, but commonly the heart, brain, and limbs.

How can one prevent ischemia and infarction?

Healthy lifestyle, regular check-ups, and managing underlying conditions can help.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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