What Causes Silent Heart Attacks
Silent heart attacks are caused by the same things that cause traditional heart attacks. This happens when part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies because it hasnt received enough oxygen. This is often due to a blocked artery in the heart. Risk factors for silent heart attacks are also the same. They include:
- Age risk increases for men older than 45 and for women older than 55 .
- Family history of heart attack.
- Race African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans and native Hawaiians are at greater risk.
- Lack of exercise.
- Gender women have silent heart attacks more often than men.
Could You Have A Heart Attack And Not Know It
- By , Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
Heres a surprising fact: nearly half of people who have a heart attack dont realize it at the time. These so-called silent heart attacks are only diagnosed after the event, when a recording of the hearts electrical activity or another test reveals evidence of damage to the heart.
One explanation for this phenomenon may be a higher-than-average tolerance for pain. Some people mistake their symptoms as indigestion or muscle pain, while others may feel pain, but in parts of their upper body other than the center of the chest, says Dr. Kenneth Rosenfield, who heads the vascular medicine and intervention section at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
People Who Have These So
- indigestion or
- a case of the flu, or
- they may think that they strained a muscle in their chest or their upper back.
- It also may not be discomfort in the chest, it may be in the jaw or the upper back or arms, she says.
Some folks have prolonged and excessive fatigue that is unexplained. Those are some of the less specific symptoms for a heart attack, but ones that people may ignore or attribute to something else.
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Risk Factors For A Silent Heart Attack In Women
Still, Ekery says, the risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for a recognized heart attack, and:
A silent heart attack can be just as dangerous as its more obvious counterpart, says Ekery. Because the event often leaves scarring and damage to the heart, it puts the person at greater risk of other heart problems. And because the person didnt know to seek treatment, blood flow to the heart might not have been restored early on, and no medications were administered, so the impact could potentially be greater.
A Cough That Wont Quit
In most cases, this isn’t a sign of heart trouble. But if you have heart disease or know you’re at risk, pay special attention to the possibility.
If you have a long-lasting cough that produces a white or pink mucus, it could be a sign of heart failure. This happens when the heart can’t keep up with the body’s demands, causing blood to leak back into the lungs.
Ask your doctor to check on whatâs causing your cough.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I feel discomfort in my chest. Could I be having a silent heart attack?
- How much risk do I have for having a silent heart attack?
- How serious was my heart attack?
- What happens now?
- Will I have to take medicine for the rest of my life?
- What is my risk of having another heart attack? Will it be more harmful than the first one?
- What lifestyle changes can I make to prevent another heart attack?
Major Risk Factors You Can Control
Smoking: Research shows that smoking increases your risk of heart attack. In fact, even people who inhale second-hand smoke are an increased risk.
High blood cholesterol: Higher cholesterol score is correlated as having higher chances of heart attack.
A low-density-lipoprotein is considered good for your heart health.
Keep in mind that a diet high in trans fats and saturated fats can increase your LDL cholesterol.
The other kind of cholesterol is high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol.
Higher levels are better. Low levels put you at greater risk of heart disease.
Smoking and being overweight can result in lower HDL cholesterol.
Triglycerides: These are the most common type of fat in the body, and a high triglyceride level combined with a low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is associated with atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure: Having high blood pressure puts more pressure on the heart making it worker harder.
This can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure.
Physical inactivity: An inactive lifestyle can be a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Regular, moderate exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Obesity and being overweight: Excess body weight means the heart works harder to push blood around the body.
This can often co-occur with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Types Of Heart Failure In Dogs
Heart failure in dogs may take on two different forms.
- Right-sided heart failure occurs when the right side of the heart cannot pump blood properly. This results in the blood, which should be returning to the heart from other parts of the body, backing up in those body organs. Right-sided heart failure usually leads to an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, the liver, and/or the limbs.
- Left-sided heart failure occurs when the pumping mechanism on the left side of the heart fails. In this instance, the blood returning from the lungs to the heart backs up and fluid accumulates in the lungs.
In some dogs, both sides of the heart are involved. This may lead to signs of both right- and left-sided heart failure occurring simultaneously.
How Silent Heart Attacks Are Discovered
Some patients whose heart attacks go unrecognized learn about them weeks or months later when they visit the doctor, often for a yearly physical.
We can tell the size of the heart attack by how much heart muscle has been damaged, often on an electrocardiogram , or even more precisely on a cardiac ultrasound, or echocardiogram, says Dr. Rimmerman.
Other patients visit their doctors soon after a silent heart attack because they experience persistent symptoms, such as fatigue and shortness of breath.
Sometimes these symptoms are caused by a leaky mitral valve, caused by scarring of the heart muscle and associated valve dysfunction after a heart attack. Serious complications can follow, including decompensated;heart failure,;heart rhythm disorders;and loss of consciousness.
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Four Things An Ekg Can Tell You About Your Hearts Health
An electrocardiogram is a test that analyzes the electrical activity of your heart. The test, which takes approximately ten minutes to perform, involves a technician attaching twelve leads to your chest and then getting a 12-line printout that reflects your hearts activity during a 10-second window.;
So, what exactly can an EKG tell you about your hearts health?
1.; ;An EKG can reveal an arrhythmia .
;A healthy heart should be pumping in a steady rhythm.; However, when there is dysfunction in the electric signals sent from one part of your heart to another, the heart beats abnormally, which produces an arrhythmia.; Since an EKG is measuring the electrical activity of your heart, it quickly picks up these arrhythmias.
2.; ;An EKG can reveal if your heart is getting enough oxygen.
Your heart is a hard-working muscle that requires plenty of oxygen in order to stay strong and function properly.; However, due to blockages or constrictions in the coronary blood vessels, the heart can experience ischemia, a dangerous state in which the cardiac tissue is underperfused. ;If your heart experiences prolonged ischemia, the muscle can actually start to die, leading to heart failure and even death.; An EKG is a useful tool that helps medical providers evaluate how much oxygen your heart is getting and intervene immediately if your heart is ischemic to prevent catastrophic complications.
3.; ;An EKG can reveal if your heart is enlarged.
Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection
SCAD is a type of heart attack that happens when the inner lining of a coronary artery tears for no clear reason, slowing or blocking blood flow down the artery.
SCAD can occur in otherwise healthy people who do not have the typical risk factors of heart disease. And according to an article in Clinical Cardiology , about 90% of SCADs happen to women between the age of 30 and 60.
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Know Your Heart Care Options
You cant predict if a heart attack will happen. But knowing where you can get the right heart care is one thing you can do. Our nationally recognized cardiac centers include:
- Regions Hospital Heart Center in St. Paul, MN, is consistently recognized as one of the nations top cardiac centers. Youll get the highest level of care in every situation, starting with emergency treatment all the way through the recovery process.
- Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center, located in St. Louis Park, MN, is nationally recognized for offering outstanding, responsive care for heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. This center is accredited as a Mission: Lifeline® Heart Attack Receiving Center by the American Heart Association, so you can expect first-rate treatment, especially in time-sensitive situations.
- Cardiac rehabilitation services are offered across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Recovering from a heart attack takes time, but you dont have to go through it alone. We offer personalized cardiac rehabilitation at seven convenient locations, so its easy to get the support you and your heart need.
Signs Youve Just Had A Mild Heart Attack
The perception many people have of a heart attack is one of an intense and sudden pain that causes victims to clutch their chest and fall to their knees. The reality, however, is that many of the signs of a heart attack are less noticeable and, alone, may not lead people to believe they are having a heart attack. In some cases, people can have a heart attack, mild or massive, without having any warning signs. But watch for the following signs to help determine if you have just had a mild heart attack.
Chest pain or discomfort
The most common sign of a heart attack is pain or discomfort in the chest, usually in the center. It lasts for more than a few minutes, or it can go away and return. Sometimes, the feeling is not one of pain, but of discomfort from pressure or squeezing. A feeling of fullness in the chest is another sign of a heart attack.
While pain in the chest oftentimes accompanies mild and massive heart attacks, a pain that radiates from your shoulder down your arm and into your jaw is another sign.
Shortness of breath
Whether it is accompanied by chest pain or not, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing can be a sign of a heart attack.
Discomfort in various areas of your upper body, including your arms, back, neck, jaw, and stomach are signs that a heart attack may be under way.
Conditions often associated with the flu, including nausea and vomiting, also can be signs of a heart attack.
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About Half Of All Heart Attacks Are Mistaken For Less Serious Problems And Can Increase Your Risk Of Dying From Coronary Artery Disease
You can have a heart attack and not even know it. A silent heart attack, known as a silent myocardial infarction , account for 45% of heart attacks and strike men more than women.
They are described as “silent” because when they occur, their symptoms lack the intensity of a classic heart attack, such as extreme and pressure; stabbing pain in the arm, neck, or jaw; sudden shortness of breath; sweating, and dizziness.
“SMI symptoms can feel so mild, and be so brief, they often get confused for regular discomfort or another less serious problem, and thus men ignore them,” says Dr. Jorge Plutzky, director of the vascular disease prevention program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
For instance, men may feel fatigue or physical discomfort and chalk it up to overwork, poor sleep, or some general age-related ache or pain. Other typical symptoms like mild pain in the throat or chest can be confused with gastric reflux, indigestion, and .
Also, the location of pain is sometimes misunderstood. With SMI, you may feel discomfort in the center of the chest and not a sharp pain on the left side of the chest, which many people associate with a heart attack. “People can even feel completely normal during an SMI and afterward, too, which further adds to the chance of missing the warning signs,” says Dr. Plutzky.
Can You Have A Heart Attack And Not Know
Usually when you are suffering from a heart attack, you are aware of it because you are experiencing symptoms. The main symptom, severe chest pain, is usually extremely obvious. Most people know about chest pain and heart attacks. What few know is that it doesnt always happen the same way in every person.
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How Do Doctors Know What Kind Of Heart Attack Youve Had
You cant predict the outcome of a heart attack by your symptoms or how severe they are. Thats why symptoms that suggest a possible heart attack should never be ignored.
How well you fare after a heart attack depends on how quickly you act, Dr. Campbell says. The sooner you get emergency care, the better the chance you will suffer less permanent damage to your heart.
If you go to the ER with heart-attack symptom, youll be treated right away. Your blood will be examined for any enzymes indicating theres been damage to your hearts muscle. And a noninvasive echocardiogram is performed to see how well your heart is pumping.
Still it may take several hours to determine whether youve had a heart attack and what kind of treatment is needed. That means, if youre not sure what your symptoms mean, the thought of spending several hours in the ER might discourage you from seeking care. Dont let it! Dr. Campbell advises that its much wiser to err on the safe side.
Its better you spend several hours in the ER than learn the damage has been done, and your heart cant be fixed, he says.
What Do I Do If I Have A Heart Attack
After a heart attack, you need quick treatment to open the blocked artery and lessen the damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call 911. The best time to treat a heart attack is within 1 or 2 hours after symptoms begin. Waiting longer means more damage to your heart and a lower chance of survival.
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How Is A Heart Attack Diagnosed
A heart attack is a medical emergency. If youre experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, call Triple Zero and ask for an ambulance. An ambulance is the safest way to go to hospital and the quickest way to seek treatment. Treatment can start when ambulance staff arrive, saving precious minutes and preventing damage to your heart muscle.;Once you get to hospital, your doctor will perform tests to diagnose if youre having a heart attack.;;These tests will also measure;the;amount;of;damage;caused to your heart;and the best treatment course to take.These tests include:;
You Get Exhausted Easily
If you suddenly feel fatigued or winded after doing something you had no problem doing in the past — like climbing the stairs or carrying groceries from the car — make an appointment with your doctor right away.
“These types of significant changes are more important to us than every little ache and pain you might be feeling,” Bufalino says.
Extreme exhaustion or unexplained weakness, sometimes for days at a time, can be a symptom of heart disease, especially for women.
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Smi: Unaware Of Possible Danger
The number of people who suffer an SMI and don’t realize it is alarming. A study in the Nov. 10, 2015,;Journal of the American Medical Association;looked at almost 2,000 people ages 45 to 84 who were free of cardiovascular disease.
After 10 years, 8% had myocardial scars, which are evidence of a heart attack. Most surprising was that 80% of these people were unaware of their condition. Overall, the prevalence of myocardial scars was five times higher in men than in women.
SMI and regular heart attacks share the same risk factors: smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. They can be just as dangerous, too. “SMI often leaves scarring and damage to the heart, which, combined with the fact that many people who have an SMI don’t seek immediate care, can further raise a person’s risk of a second and potentially more harmful heart attack,” says Dr. Plutzky. In fact, people who have an SMI and don’t get treatment have a three times greater risk of dying from coronary artery disease. “A silent heart attack is a loud signal your body sends that you have some kind of underlying health issue that needs attention,” says Dr. Plutzky.
How To Know If You Have A Silent Heart Attack
A silent heart attack is more dangerous and scarier than typical heart attack as a person is not aware whether they have had a heart attack or not, so they are not able to get 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/something other than a heart attack. Diabetics may not feel any symptoms due to diabetic neuropathy, meaning their nerves are damaged due to diabetes so they become less sensitive to pain stimulus. If a person is aware of these less typical symptoms then the person can call emergency help. An emergency help within one hour of the heart attack can prevent permanent damage to heart muscle.
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