What Does A Silent Heart Attack Mean?
A silent heart attack is just another heart attack, but it is silent in nature and its symptoms are subtle and the patient having it does not come to know about its symptoms. A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction (MI), is coronary thrombosis (the blood supply to a part of heart muscle is compromised), mostly due to plaque formation in coronary artery.
Symptoms of Silent Heart Attack
The symptoms of a classical heart attack are chest pain, pain on the left/both sides of the body such as hands, shoulders, arms, neck, and jaw, shortness of breath, sweats and dizziness. In silent heart attack, these symptoms may or may be presented. The symptoms are so vague and subtle that patients are unable to associate them with a heart attack. People might have some of the non-classical symptoms such as fatigue, indigestion, discomfort in the upper back or jaw, nausea or vomiting and lightheadedness. Since patients are unaware of their condition, they do not call for medical help.
Causes Of Silent Heart Attack
The cause of a silent heart attack is the same as a classical heart attack, i.e., a blockage in the blood flow to the heart due to a blood clot. A silent heart attack carries the same risk as a classical heart attack that includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides, diabetes, smoking, anxiety, depression, family history of heart disease, obesity, lack of exercise and age. A silent heart attack is much more common and occurs in 45 to 50% cases of heart attack. Earlier studies have suggested that women are a greater chance of developing silent heart attack as compared to classic heart attack for which men are at a greater risk.
How Do You Know If You Have A Silent Heart Attack?
A silent heart attack is much more dangerous than a typical heart attack as a person who suffered from a silent heart attack is not aware of his condition, so they are not able to take any medical attention. Silent heart attack may present with one or more non-typical symptoms such as mild chest discomfort/pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, stomach pain, indigestion symptoms, throat pain, jaw pain, nausea. People may discard these symptoms as inconsequential and may attribute them to anything, but a heart attack. Diabetics may not feel any symptoms due to diabetic neuropathy, which means their nerves, are injured due to diabetes and are unable to perceive the pain stimulus. If a person is aware of these non-classical symptoms then they will be able to call for emergency help. Treatment within one hour of the heart attack can prevent permanent injury to heart muscles.
How Do You Detect Silent Heart Attacks?
Nearly half of the patients are unaware of their silent heart attack history and feel they are healthy until they are checked for some other condition and are detected for silent heart attack coincidentally. Some people may have persistent symptoms of shortness of breath or fatigue, so they will get a routine electrocardiogram and will find out that they have had a silent heart attack. However, by the time they are detected damage has already been done, and have suffered silent ischemia due to lack of blood and oxygen to a part of heart muscle. Silent heart attack can be detected through an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram or through elevated troponin levels.
Management Of Silent Heart Attacks
Silent heart attack can be managed by identifying the risk factors such a high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, smoking, family history, diabetes, lack of exercise. The risk factors can be evaluated and treated to prevent a second heart attack, as after a silent heart attack a person becomes at a greater risk of developing another heart attack. Apparently, there is no test to determine the probability of a silent heart attack, but risk factors can be identified and treated. In addition, lifestyle changes with diet and exercise play a significant role in preventing the risks. It is best to listen to what one’s body is trying to tell, as symptoms will never lie.
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