What is a Silent Heart Attack?
Did you know you may be suffering from a heart attack and not even know it? This is known as a silent heart attack. Like any other heart attack, a silent heart attack blocks the blood flow to your heart, resulting in possible muscle damage. The reason this type of heart attack is considered “silent” is because of its non-diagnosable symptoms.
The symptoms of a silent heart attack are not that intense as compared to a normal heart attack. You likely will not be able to recognize them as a symptom of a heart attack, even if you feel any.
These types of heart attacks affect everyone differently. It represents 45% of all heart attacks and is considered a "silent killer."
What Are the Causes of a Silent Heart Attack?
The causes are very similar to a normal heart attack. The heart muscles are damaged because of the absence of oxygen due to a blocked artery in the heart. Risk factors are similar to a normal heart attack as well, such as:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Family history of heart attack
- Age risk in men and women
- Lack of physical activity
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Although the symptoms are not as severe as a typical heart attack, they are often misunderstood or misdiagnosed for other conditions. These are:
- Slight pain. Slight pain or discomfort is felt but not in the chest like a regular heart attack. You may feel an insignificant pain in the upper abdomen or your jaw. Sometimes, it even appears as a strained muscle.
- Burning sensation. You may feel heartburn or indigestion, but as a mild pain in the throat.
- Breathing issues. If you are experiencing issues with your breathing, it could be a sign of a silent heart attack.
- Physical discomfort. This is often mistaken as some other issue. However, it is a common sign of a silent heart attack.
- Feeling nauseous or a cold sweat. Having cold sweats, feeling nauseated, or lightheaded is a common sign of having a silent heart attack.
They are usually diagnosed during routine checkups. It is generally diagnosed by having a CT scan or MRI of your heart. If the test results show damaged muscles, then it indicates a silent heart attack. Another important diagnostic test is blood tests carried out in emergency departments of patients with a high risk of a heart attack.
These types of attacks are usually found after the attack is over, medications are prescribed to prevent blood clotting and reduce the risk of another heart attack. These include:
- Omega 3 fish oil
- ACE inhibitors
Along with medications, some procedures to treat heart attack are as follow:
- Angioplasty and stenting
- Bypass surgery
You should modify your lifestyle to prevent yourself from having another heart attack. If you are experiencing symptoms related to a silent heart attack, visit your doctor or the ER immediately.
Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes
If you have had a silent heart attack, you are at a greater risk of having another one, and this time it will be more severe. Therefore, we strongly recommend you consider making modifications to your lifestyle to help reduce the risk. Prevention of a silent heart attack is similar to that of an actual heart attack. Some of these lifestyle changes are:
Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet
A heart-healthy diet should lack saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol-containing items. Eat proteins, fish, vegetables, and fruits. Switch refined products with whole grains.
Manage stress in your daily life activities. Find healthy ways to deal with stress.
Taking Proper Medications
Help control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels with medications and lifestyle changes. Visit your doctor once a month to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Smoking is a big no-no if you are trying to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Daily physical activity is an essential factor in a heart-healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise helps improve your heart muscles. Combine both moderate and vigorous activity to keep yourself physically active.
Maintaining an Ideal Weight
The risk of a heart attack is more common in obese patients because excess weight often results in high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus. Manage your weight through proper dieting and exercising.
Getting Regular Checkups
A silent heart attack is known for its unrecognizable signs and symptoms. Thus, it is necessary to visit your doctor once a month or as often as the doctor recommends.
Having a heart attack is dreadful, and it may lead to fear, anger, and depression. It's imperative to discuss these signs and symptoms with your doctor, or you can simply visit a mental health provider or a support group.
In the end, it is never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes in your routine to prevent any future heart attacks.