The first and only symptom of a silent heart attack (SHA) could be sudden death! A study found that death rates from silent attacks were the same as those from non-silent heart attacks. SHA symptoms are not typical as heart attacks go – a SHA is very hard to detect and is usually detected long after the event through a careful study of medical history, ECG (electrocardiogram; measures heart activity) and testing blood for cardiac enzymes. Other means of detection include a stress test or a blood test that detects certain hormones in the blood. Since the patient is not aware of the attack and significant, valuable time is wasted, the heart becomes permanently damaged. These attacks are worrisome in that seeking and getting prompt treatment after an attack is essential for both recovery and survival. People most susceptible to SHA’s are those that have had a prior heart attack, individuals who have diabetes, men and women over the age of 65 and those prone to strokes. There is more research to be done to determine Individuals taking medication on a regular basis may also experience a SHA. Twice as many people die from a SHA as compared to those that experienced a myocardial infarction (MI) with chest pain.
The most important treatment for a SHA is restoring the blood flow to the heart. These silent attacks lack the majority of the usual symptoms of a standard heart attack but can still be recognized through ordinary signs such as discomfort in your chest, arms or jaw that seem to go away after resting, fatigue or extreme tiredness, nausea, sweating (particularly cold sweat), breathlessness and dizziness. An interesting statistic is that 25-30% of all heart attacks are silent.
It is believed that women have silent attacks a little more often than men. They can include discomfort in your chest, arms or jaw that seem to go away after resting, shortness of breath and tiring. In a significant number of women with diabetics and the over-65, an attack comes without any symptoms. But SHA symptoms may not include chest pain. Common SHA symptoms include chest discomfort, or pains in the arm and/or jaw that go away after you rest, getting tired easily, and experiencing shortness of breath. One odd symptom that is not reported often or fully explained in regular and SHAs is a feeling of impending doom. If you feel you have had a SHA, you may want to take a non-acetaminophen aspirin as studies have shown doing so may help prevent heart damage that can occur from a SHA.
Even though women account for nearly half of all heart attack deaths they are less likely than men to believe they’re having a heart attack. They also are more likely to delay seeking emergency treatment. Women with the highest calcium scores were especially at risk. Women tend to have their heart attacks after onset of menopause. One study found that about 5 percent of women considered at low risk for heart disease still face potential cardiovascular problems because of calcium buildup in their arteries. Symptoms in women are often mis-diagnosed. Women tend to have cardiovascular events later in life than do men and they are more often fatal or debilitating. Women should quit smoking, take steps to lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels and control their blood sugar if they have diabetes. Women may experience atypical symptoms such as a pain between the shoulder blades rather than crushing chest pain. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Major Risk Factors
– High Blood Pressure
– Positive family history of heart attack and stroke
– Obesity – if your waist is more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women, then you have “central obesity.”
The risks are often underestimated because women develop heart disease later than men – often at age 65. Studies are showing that younger women are developing heart disease earlier than originally thought. One study stated that women still face potential cardiovascular problems because of calcium buildup in their arteries. There is consideration for routine testing of coronary artery calcium to gauge heart risk for women. While there are no known measures to reduce coronary artery calcium, women can reduce their risk for heart disease by measuring calcium which can show they might actually be at higher risk. After this finding, they can benefit from preventive measures. The current situation is that there are no known ways to reduce the calcium. Women have to offset it with lifestyle changes that reduce risk factors such as cholesterol.
Necrosis of a region of the heart muscle caused by an interruption in the supply of blood to the heart, usually as a result of occlusion of a coronary artery resulting from coronary artery disease. The most common cause is a blood clot (thrombus) that lodges in an area of a coronary artery thickened with cholesterol-containing plaque due to atherosclerosis. It is caused by a severely narrowed or completely blocked coronary artery that keeps oxygen and nutrients from reaching heart muscle.
Restoring blood flow can be accomplished by dissolving clots found in the artery (thrombolysis) or by pushing the artery open using a balloon (angioplasty). Since there is no awareness of coronary artery blocks, the cause of the heart attack, the person continues with the habitual life style that played a major role in creation of those blocks. Silent heart attacks are only the most extreme case of a still more prevalent condition called “silent ischemia” — a chronic shortage of oxygen- and nutrient-bearing blood to a portion of the heart. Although chest pain is usually the number 1 indicator, extreme shortness of breath would usually take second place. The patient has to find and use the credible, proven information that can prevent and even reverse advanced coronary artery blocks. The most trusted approach to build up your cardiac health (even with advanced coronary artery blockage) is the adoption of a regular and intelligent exercise plan. A test for coronary artery calcium is easily done and lifestyle changes can be commenced immediately.
In the case of a silent heart attack, the patient is not aware of the infarction and because valuable time is wasted, the heart becomes permanently damaged. Finding out that your heart is seriously damaged because you did not act right after a silent attack can be devastating. Your doctor can conduct test that enables looking for damaged areas of the heart and problems with the heart’s pumping action. This indicates the healthy and damaged areas of the heart.