It has already been established that more people die from heart attacks than any other condition known to man. More women than men die from it, and more blacks than whites are diagnosed with it. But these are just facts of the number of incidence of heart attacks that we are of aware of.
It appears there’s another killer among the population that you don’t hear much about, and it goes by the name of Silent Heart Attack or Non Q-wave Unrecognized Myocardial Infarction (UMI). It happens more often that previously thought and carries with it a uniquely high risk of premature death. These silent heart attacks go totally unnoticed because there is no pain associated with them and they don’t show up on EKG tracings.
It is difficult to comprehend how often these types of heart attacks occur, and no one can predict the future outcome of this condition. They are silent in nature and detection is elusive until after the fact. They also occur more often in people who have significant heart disease. With heart disease, the nerves surrounding the heart are usually damaged, which explains how a silent heart attack can happen without the victim’s knowledge.
Those at risk for silent heart attack include diabetics, who are more prone to this type of attack, as well as women, the elderly, and those diagnosed with having heart disease. Presently, there are no clear cut guidelines for the treatment of patients who exhibit signs and symptoms of having a silent heart attack, or Non Q-Wave UMI, but recent clinical studies have been conducted to help find an appropriate treatment. Currently, the treatment for silent heart disease is no different than the care given to those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease.
Silent heart attack symptoms do not resemble the classic heart attack symptoms. A known cause of this condition is Silent Ischemia (Decreased blood supply to the heart muscle). When blood flow to the heart is blocked by plaque, the heart muscle in the area of the blockage becomes damaged. It does not produce any symptoms because the nerve supply to the coronary arteries is also damaged. Surprisingly, when an attack is severe there may not be any chest pain at all. This can be the only a welcomed factor to having a painless heart attack, as the pain can be excruciatingly debilitating.